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Czech president in hospital as post-election government talks start

Czech President Milos Zeman was taken to a military hospital in Prague on Sunday, a day after legislative elections delivered a narrow defeat to his ally, Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

The CTK news agency reported on the 77-year-old’s latest health problems citing a spokesperson at the Central Military Hospital, where Zeman has received treatment before.

Zeman had met with Babis, a populist billionaire that became prime minister in 2017, for about 45 minutes at his Lany Castle residence near Prague earlier on Sunday, CTK reported.

Babis suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of an alliance of opposition parties, which won 108 of the 200 seats in the Chamber of Deputies after voting was held on Friday and Saturday.

Zeman plays a crucial role in determining what happens next, because as president he is in charge of naming who forms the next government.

Should the head of state be indisposed, this task will pass to the president of the Chamber of Deputies.

Post-election political turmoil was seen as a possibility, as Zeman had stressed he would not give the mandate to a coalition of parties, but to the strongest single party. In this case, that would be Babis’ ANO party.

Zeman had only been released from hospital in September after an eight-day stay.

He has been president since 2013. He previously served as Czech prime minister from 1998 to 2002. He suffers from diabetes, according to reports, and is confined to a wheelchair due to a nerve disorder.

He is the first Czech president to be elected twice directly by the people following a constitutional amendment.

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