PRAGUE, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- The first ever direct presidential election in the Czech Republic started on Friday afternoon.
Milos Zeman, former Social Democrat (CSSD) prime minister now running for the Citizens' Rights Party (SPOZ), is considered a favorite out of the nine presidential candidates.
Another candidate expected to advance to the second round of elections is former interim prime minister Jan Fischer (unaffiliated).
No matter who wins, there is hope that the first direct presidential election in Czech may bring a new political balance between the government and the Presidential Office.
The campaigns before the election have showed that presidential candidates have promised to push through a clear political agenda, which may cause tension in the Czech parliamentary system that does not identify with a strong role of the president.
The new president can use his direct, strong mandate from the voters in possible disputes with the executive power.
The presidential candidates have thus far presented a wide choice for Czech voters. Apart from Fischer and Zeman, the tattooed artist Vladimir Franz showed that one can succeed with a campaign without big sponsors by concentrating on social networking websites.
Despite the disputes over the registration of candidates for which Japan-born senator Tomio Okamura requested the election be postponed in vain, analysts said the presidential campaign shows candidates are focused on political programs rather than backstage political bargaining.