The polls showed Pavel with a large lead ahead of the run-off votes, which began on Friday and ended on Saturday.
Although the presidency is largely ceremonial, its role is symbolic. Pavel’s victory would cement a shift away from populist politics – at least for now. The race was also seen as something of a weather forecast, as Russia’s war in Ukraine is reshaping electoral politics across Europe.
Jiri Priban, professor of law and philosophy at Cardiff University, said Pavel could show the continent that “the populists can be defeated”. “This is a very powerful message for transatlantic relations and constitutional democracy. The system is strained.”
The candidate is at odds with President Milos Zeman, who has sought to expand the powers of the presidency since he was elected a decade ago. He appointed an unelected caretaker government (although it failed to gain parliamentary approval), refused to appoint judges and professors who displeased him, and sided with China and Russia. blocked his political appointment.
The clear preference for Pavel over Bavis suggests that the current situation in Europe favors war heroes, multinationalists, over politically bent oligarchs. It is possible that you are.
Babis, 68, is one of the richest people in the Czech Republic and owns an empire ranging from agribusiness and chemicals to media. When he became prime minister in 2017, he put his company into trust. Also, an audit by the European Commission found him influencing the allocation of his EU subsidies to businesses.
In a separate domestic lawsuit, a court in Prague ruled last month that it was “not a crime” to transfer one of his companies to his wife and children to qualify for EU small business subsidies. , cleared him of fraud.
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Pavel presented voters with a very different kind of choice.
A former paratrooper, he served as part of the United Nations Protection Forces in Bosnia and was awarded the title of Hero in 1993 for liberating over 50 French soldiers from hostile territory.
He was Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces from 2012 to 2015 and Chairman of the NATO Military Commission from 2015 to 2018.
Pavel and Babis received nearly equal share of votes in the first round of voting on January 15th. But then Pavel was backed by three of his six candidates who lost, including runner-up Danuse Nerudova, and Babis’ support for his ANO political parties, his SPD on the far right and his party on the far right. It appeared to be limited to parties peripheral to the department.
Jiri Pehe, a political analyst and president of New York University in Prague, said Mr. Pavel was “clearly in favor of the numbers.” Babis’ only chance was to “deter potential Pavel voters.”
That’s what he tried to do during the campaign between rounds, and it was highly hostile, rife with disinformation, and dominated primarily by one topic: war.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine had a great impact on Czech society. The country’s strong support for the Ukrainian side sparked protests and revolts. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fled to the Czech Republic. A pride for some Czechs, a frustration for others.
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Pavel vowed to keep the country firmly on the pro-Western path and continue to support Ukraine.
Paying tribute to the nervousness of many Czechs in fighting across the borders of the European Union, his campaign ad advertised him as:
Babis, on the other hand, denounces war and casts Pavel as a warmonger. His billboard claims “General does not believe in peace” and “I will not drag the Czech Republic into war. I am a diplomat, not a military man.” The chain mail falsely claimed that Pavel was planning a general mobilization.
In a recent televised debate, Babis appeared to question NATO’s collective security clause. When asked if he would deploy Czech business trips to the Baltic states or Poland if Russia invaded, he replied, “Certainly not,” prompting immediate protest. I retracted my statement, but it seems that there was damage.
According to analysts, his defeat would mean the end of an era. Pehe of Prague said.
“I expect his presidency to be more low-key. He will focus on representing the country abroad,” Pehe said. ”