Second attempt to elect new president ends in failure

A second attempt to find a successor to President Vaclav Havel has ended in failure. A third round of voting at Prague Castle by both houses of the Czech parliament early on Friday evening saw neither the Civic Democrats' Vaclav Klaus nor Jaroslava Moserova, who was nominated by the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, receive the necessary majority of all legislators present. Mr Klaus won the most support in the third round - as he did in the first presidential election on January 15 - but was still 14 votes short. Earlier a third candidate, former Social Democrat prime minister Milos Zeman, was knocked out in the first round.

A third presidential election may now be held, though no date has been set as yet and some parties would prefer to amend the constitution to allow for a direct vote, which would mean a period without a head of state. Current president Vaclav Havel steps down on February 2, after 13 years in office.

Author: Ian Willoughby