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Former Nato commander wins Czech presidential election

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Retired NATO commander Petr Pavel was elected president of the Czech Republic, winning voters with a pledge to pledge full engagement with NATO and “restore integrity” to the presidency.

In Saturday’s second round, Pavel comfortably defeated former Prime Minister Andrei Babis, who was backed by incumbent President Milos Zeman.

Pavel received 58% of the votes compared to Babiš with 42% and 100% of the votes were tallied after the polls closed.

Pavel described the spill as “a collision of two worlds”. He tweeted, “Going against what Babis and Zeman represent. Chaotic world, failure to solve problems, personal gain, behind-the-scenes repercussions”.

Zeman served up to two terms, during which he shaped foreign policy by welcoming China and Russia as key partners. He never distanced himself from Russian President Vladimir Putin, but last February Russia launched an all-out offensive against Ukraine.

Neither candidate managed to secure the required absolute majority in the first round of voting two weeks ago, but after the other knocked-out candidate urged supporters to back him in the runoff. , Pavel advanced to the second round of voting as the clear favorite. Some warned that Babis would continue Zeman’s style of presidency and put undue pressure on Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s coalition government.

In the Czech Republic, the government, not the president, has executive power.

Pavel’s campaign emphasized his military credentials and commitment to NATO. From 2015 he chaired the Military Commission on Defense Agreements until 2018.

By contrast, Babiš’s foreign policy caused concern among Czech allies after he suggested that troops should not be sent to aid Poland or the Baltic states if they were attacked. said it only meant that he did not want the Ukraine conflict to escalate into a global war.

Babis is likely to remain prominent in Czech politics as the founding leader of the opposition party ANO.

During his campaign, Babis tried to accuse the coalition of leading the country to an economic slowdown.

Czech economist and member of the European Parliament Lüdek Niedermeier said Babis expected a rapid and definite deterioration in economic conditions from the war and the energy crisis to hit the government.

“But for now, it doesn’t look too bad. The jobs data is still strong, and it’s hard to imagine a deep recession,” he said.

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