Retired army general Petr Pavel wins election to become Czech President


Shropshire Star

28th January 2023 – (Prague) Retired army general Petr Pavel defeated populist billionaire Andrej Babis in a run-off vote to become the new Czech President.

Mr Pavel, 61, will succeed controversy-courting Milos Zeman in the largely ceremonial but prestigious post.

With the ballots from 93% of almost 15,000 polling statins counted by the Czech Statistics Office, Mr Pavel had 57.4% of the vote compared with 42.6% for Mr Babis.

Mr Pavel and Mr Babis, a former prime minister, had advanced to a second round of voting because none of the eight initial candidates received an absolute majority in the first round two weeks ago.

The polls had favoured Mr Pavel, an independent candidate who came a narrow first in the opening round.

Three other candidates pledged their support for Mr Pavel ahead of the voting that started on Friday.

Mr Pavel, a former chairman of Nato’s military committee, is a political newcomer. He has fully endorsed the country’s military and humanitarian support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Mr Babis, 68, whose centrist ANO (YES) movement ended up in opposition after losing the 2021 general election, is supported by Mr Zeman, with whom he shares Eurosceptic views and the habit of using anti-migrant rhetoric.

Mr Zeman was the first president elected by popular vote. His second and final five-year term expires in March.

Legislators elected the previous two presidents, Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Klaus.