Pro Western retired general Pavel wins Czech presidential election Portal

Pro-Western retired general Pavel wins Czech presidential election – Portal

  • Pavel wins in a runaway vote on ex-PM Babis
  • Pavel gives clear support for Ukraine, West
  • Pledges to end divisions brought by Babis, incumbent Zeman
  • Highest turnout in presidential elections

PRAGUE, Jan 28 (Portal) – Former army chief and senior NATO official Petr Pavel won the Czech Republic’s presidential election on Saturday on promises to firmly anchor the country to the West and bridge society’s political divides.

Pavel, a 61-year-old retired general running for office for the first time, won 58.3% of the vote with all constituencies reporting definitive results, defeating billionaire ex-Prime Minister Andrei Babis, a dominant but divisive force in Czech politics for a decade.

Pavel, a social liberal who fought as an independent and won the support of the centre-right government, delivered a message of unity as he addressed his supporters and journalists at a Prague concert hall on Saturday, as the results showed he had won would have.

“Values ​​like truth, dignity, respect and humility have won,” he said.

“I am convinced that these values ​​are shared by the vast majority of us, it is worth making them a part of our lives and also bringing them back to Prague Castle and our politics.”

Pavel has also been fully committed to continuing to support Ukraine in its defense against the Russian invasion.

Czech presidents don’t have many day-to-day duties, but they select prime ministers and central bank governors, have a say in foreign policy, are influential opinion leaders, and can push government policies forward.

Pavel will take office in March, replacing the outgoing Milos Zeman, himself a divisive figure during his two terms in office over the past decade, who had backed Babis as his successor.

Zeman had been pushing for closer ties with Beijing and also Moscow until Russia invaded Ukraine, and Pavel’s election will mark a sharp change.

Turnout in the runoff election, which ended on Saturday, was a record high of 70.2%.

The election result will only become official when it is published in a legal journal on Tuesday, but the result of the survey was already known on Saturday.

Babis, 68, a combative business tycoon who heads the main opposition party in parliament, had attacked Pawel as a government candidate. He tried to attract voters struggling with rising prices by promising to urge the government to help them more.

Babis and Prime Minister Petr Fiala congratulated Pavel on his victory. Slovakia’s liberal President Zuzana Caputova appeared at Pavel’s headquarters to congratulate him, demonstrating her narrow political positions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy congratulated Pavel on his election on Twitter and said he looked forward to close cooperation.

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Pavel has advocated keeping the central European country of 10.5 million firmly in the European Union-NATO military alliance and supports the government’s continued aid to Ukraine.

He supports the introduction of the euro, an issue successive governments have put on hold, and supports same-sex marriage and other progressive policies.

Pavel, a career soldier, joined the army in communist times, was awarded a French military cross during peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and later rose to become the head of the Czech General Staff and became chairman of the NATO Military Committee for three years in 2018 to retire.

“I chose Mr. Pavel because he is a decent and reasonable man and I think that the young generation has a future with him,” said Abdulai Diop, 60, after Saturday’s election in Prague.

Babis had been fighting over fears of the war spreading in Ukraine and had tried to offer peace talks while suggesting Pavel, as a former soldier, could draw the Czechs into a war, a claim Pavel dismissed.

Reporting by Robert Muller, Jason Hovet and Jan Lopatka; Additional reporting by Jiri Skacel and Fedja Grulovic; Edited by Hugh Lawson, David Holmes and Helen Popper

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