Czech leader calls October general election

Czech President Milos Zeman speaks during a press conference on March 10, 2017 after he announced he would run for a second five-year term in a presidential vote scheduled for next year

Czech president Milos Zeman said Thursday the next general election in the EU member country would take place on October 20-21 this year.

"I will schedule the parliamentary vote for the latest date possible (under the Constitution), which is October 20-21," Zeman said in an interview on the private TV Barrandov.

The current Czech government, which took office after a 2013 vote, comprises the leftwing Social Democrats, the centrist ANO movement and the centrist Christian Democrats.

Led by billionnaire and Finance Minister Andrej Babis, ANO has emerged as a clear odds-on favourite of the next vote in recent polls.

A March survey by the Kantar TNS agency put ANO at the top with 32-percent support, way ahead of the Social Democrats with 12.5 percent and the Communists with 11.5 percent, the public Czech TV said Sunday.

Also conducted in March, a poll by the Czech Academy of Sciences showed ANO up front with 21 percent, followed by the Social Democrats with 16.5 percent and the Communists with nine percent.

Zeman, a 72-year-old veteran leftwinger with strong anti-migrant, pro-Russian and pro-Chinese views, said last month he would run for a second five-year term himself in a direct presidential vote scheduled for early 2018.