Former Prime Minister Milos Zeman heads for win in 1st round of Czech presidential election

Former leftist Prime Minister Milos Zeman appears to be heading for victory in the first round of the presidential election in the Czech Republic.

With the votes from more than 50 percent of polling stations counted Saturday, Zeman was leading with 25.37 percent of the vote. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and another former premier Jan Fischer were fighting for the second with 20.35 and 17.37 percent, respectively.

Czechs are electing the country's president in a direct popular vote for the first time, choosing from nine candidates to replace euro-skeptic President Vaclav Klaus.

Zeman and Fischer were considered favorites.

If no candidate achieves a majority, the top two finishers will face each other in a runoff in two weeks.

Klaus' second and final term in office ends March 7.