The next President in Prague: ex-General Pavel or ex-Prime Minister Babiš? – Politics

The next President in Prague: ex-General Pavel or ex-Prime Minister Babiš?  – Politics

The results are not 100 percent counted yet, since begins Andrei Babis the duel for the office of head of state in the Czech Republic. With 34.99 percent, the former Prime Minister, entrepreneur and current opposition leader in the House of Representatives made it into the runoff election, which will take place on January 27th and 28th.

Petr Pavel, who gained a few more votes, has just told the television cameras that he expects a tough election campaign “in which a few half-truths and probably a few untruths will be spread.” Babiš already compares the former general of the Czech army and until 2018 the highest-ranking Czech representative in NATO with Putin.

Babiš is up against Petr Pavel, who received almost 23,000 more votes and thus has 35.4 percent. It is a much clearer result than was previously expected in the surveys of various institutes. The economist and former rector of the Mendel University Danuše Nerudová spotted level with Pavel and Babiš. All three were in the forecasts between 20 and 25 percent.

The only woman is eliminated. But she says a door is now open

The hope of the first woman in office has been dashed, Nerudová received just under 14 percent of the votes. The 44-year-old stood for a generation change, unencumbered by the past in socialist Czechoslovakia. Above all, she addressed the first and second voters – and that was apparently not enough.

Election in the Czech Republic: "There is still one great evil, and that evil is called Babiš": Third-placed Danuše Nerudová now wants to support Petr Pavel (right).

“There is still one big evil, and that evil is called Babiš”: Third-placed Danuše Nerudová now wants to support Petr Pavel (right).


There were tears among her supporters at Saturday night’s election party, but Nerudová said the result shows there is value in getting involved, the door is open for a new generation. Then she declared her support for Petr Pavel – in the course of the evening she was followed by three other defeated candidates. “There is still one great evil, and this evil is called Babiš,” said Nerudová.

Participation has increased: more than 68 percent voted

Interest in the third direct presidential election in the Czech Republic was significantly higher than in 2018 and 2013. More than 68 percent of eligible voters cast their votes to nominate the successor of Milos Zeman in Prague Castle, who is no longer allowed to stand after two terms in office.

For the run-off, pollsters predicted a defeat for Andrej Babiš even before the first ballot. In a poll conducted by the Stem Institute in early January, 52 percent of participants said they would definitely not vote for Babiš. With Pavel it was only 35 percent. The head of Stem, Martin Buchtík, now told the Czech magazine respecthe continues to assume that Pavel will win the election, but the outcome could be close.

The election campaign before the first ballot was calmer and fairer than before. Nerudová said on Saturday evening that she was happy to have conducted an election campaign “without blackening anyone”. Andrej Babiš only took part in a television debate on a private broadcaster with the other candidates and turned down invitations to public broadcasting, for example.

The subject of the secret service is now well on the table

Speaking to his supporters on Saturday night, Babiš told his rival that he didn’t understand why Pavel was even competing. The country does not need a chief of staff, there is already one. He then drew a link from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s former KGB stint to Pavel’s intelligence training in the Czechoslovak army. After reunification, Pavel continued this training in Washington at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

During the election campaign, Babiš accused the ruling conservative-liberal coalition of five of doing more for the Ukrainian war refugees than for their own people. “I help the people,” Babiš repeated his slogan at the campaign party. In Slovakia there are documents who identify Babiš as a secret service agent in Czechoslovakia. Babiš denied this cooperation again on Saturday.

This probably sets one of the issues between the 68-year-old Babiš and the 61-year-old Pavel. Pavel reacted calmly on Saturday, both to the election result and to the upcoming duel: “Considering that I’m a politically inexperienced person compared to Babiš, the result doesn’t look bad at all,” he said. It is now about choosing a change, about the country having politicians who keep their oaths and promises, respect the law and about “being a trustworthy country for our allies”.

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