NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 22:47
Former Czech general Petr Pavel has won the first round of the Czech Republic presidential election over former Prime Minister Andrej Babis. But the difference between the two candidates is minimal: Pavel won 35.4 percent of the vote, while 35 percent of voters voted for Babis.
Since neither has obtained an absolute majority, a second round of voting is required. It’s in two weeks.
The populist former prime minister Babis was previously seen as an important contender for the presidency. The successful businessman was Prime Minister of the Czech Republic from 2017 to 2021. With an estimated capital of 3.2 billion euros, he is one of the richest people in the country.
Babis’ career is not without controversy: the 68-year-old politician and entrepreneur was accused of diverting 2 million euros in European money during his premiership for the construction of a luxury resort. He was acquitted last Monday.
Former NATO general Pavel is a newcomer to politics. He is considered pro-Western and, unlike Babis, is strongly in favor of additional military aid to Ukraine, just like the current centre-right government of the Czech Republic. Pavel also wants the euro to be introduced in the Czech Republic, where payments are still made with Czech crowns.
During the election campaign, Babis mainly profiled itself as the candidate who wants to tackle inflation and high energy prices. He is on good terms with current President Zeman and also maintains close ties with Hungarian President Orbán.
The third candidate in the election was Danusa Nerudova. The professor of economics received just under 14 percent of the vote. She has called on her supporters to vote for Pavel in the second round.
The president in the Czech Republic is a predominantly ceremonial position, although the person who holds the office is seen as an influential voice in the country’s social debate. The president also appoints the judges of the constitutional court, with the consent of the senate.
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