Czech election: Retired army general Petr Pavel wins race to become president

Petr Pavel, a former chairman of Nato’s military committee, is a political newcomer

Retired army general Petr Pavel defeated populist billionaire Andrej Babis in a run-off vote to become the new Czech president.

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

With the ballots from 93 per cent of almost 15,000 polling statins counted by the Czech Statistics Office, Mr Pavel had 57.4 per cent of the vote compared with 42.6 per cent 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 finished narrowly in first place in the opening round.

Three other candidates pledged their support for Mr Pavel in advance 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, 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. – AP