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Czech President in intensive care after holding talks on dramatic election

Czech President Miloš Zeman was taken into intensive care on Sunday, shortly after holding talks with the country’s populist prime minister, whose leadership hangs in the balance following a dramatic election.

The president plays a crucial role in appointing the next prime minister after the election. But the Czech Republic’s political future is now in limbo while Zeman is treated at Prague’s Central Military Hospital. “The reason for [Zeman’s] hospitalization is complications from the illnesses for which he has been receiving treatments,” doctor Miroslav Zavoral said in a brief statement to the press on Sunday, adding he could not yet talk about the prognosis.

Video from outside the presidential chateau in Lány, west of Prague, showed an ambulance leaving the compound with a police escort and limousines. The 77-year-old Zeman has been suffering from a range of health problems over recent years. On advice of his doctor, he voted in the country’s general election Friday from the presidential retreat, instead of at a school in Prague as was previously scheduled. Zeman’s admission to hospital comes at a pivotal moment in deciding the Czech Republic’s new leadership. Indeed, one of the president’s main constitutional roles is to choose the next prime minister to form a government.

Zeman was taken to hospital shortly after speaking with Prime Minister Andrej Babiš — a day after a general election where Babiš’s ruling party ANO appeared to have lost its grip on power, and the two opposition coalitions who won a majority said they planned to form the next government together. Zeman has not said when or whom would be asked to form the next government. But he has previously indicated he would ask the leader of the largest single party — not any coalition.

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