The first, according to preliminary results, obtained 35.34 percent of the votes, the second’s result is slightly worse: 35.1 percent. Economist Danushe Nerudova, who was also considered a very likely candidate to enter the “runoff”, did not cope with this task – only 14 percent of voters cast her votes for her. By the way, she was the youngest candidate and the first female candidate for the post of head of the Czech state.
The direct elections held on Friday and Saturday completed an important stage in the modern history of the Czech Republic, when the state was headed by Milos Zeman, a politician who, on the one hand, was mercilessly criticized by the Prague Cafe, is that is, the liberal part of society and, on the other hand, was also actively supported by the Czech provinces. Without much difficulty, he twice won presidential elections, but then more than once found himself under the threat of impeachment. The reason for this is the often “politically incorrect” statements of the head of state on various occasions, as well as his non-trivial actions.
Zeman was a categorical opponent of giving refuge to immigrants from “problem” states in the Czech Republic, sharply criticized Ukrainian nationalists, after 2014 he repeatedly advocated lifting sanctions against Russia, more than once spoke disparagingly about various aspects of EU policy, put the American ambassador in Prague in his place, defiantly came to Moscow to celebrate Victory Day, scolded the “overthrowers” of monuments to Soviet soldiers… True, in February of this year, following the rest of the European leaders, he did not support a special military operation.
And although the Czech Republic is a parliamentary republic, that is, the actual executive power here belongs to the chief of staff, and the president, according to the constitution, performs mainly representative functions, Zeman, 78, has certainly been the “Czech head “All these ten years.
Of course, he will go down in history as a great statesman who, above all, cared about the interests of his country. Charismatic, not devoid of a pragmatic sense of humor, beaten to death in “heavyweight” political fights. Recently, it was not easy for him to fulfill his presidential duties: acute chronic illnesses chained Zeman to a wheelchair. But, as they say, even now he is not averse to having a glass or two of slivovitz at dinner, and without the world famous Czech beer – nothing.
Oligarch vs General
Andrés Babish. Photo: EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK
Eight candidates were allowed to fight for the presidency. But only three of them had a real chance of going to the second round: Babish, Pavel and Nerudova.
Now, after Saturday’s summary, the race will be followed by two candidates and, apparently, the fight between them will develop very hard.
68-year-old businessman, large farm owner and media mogul Andrei Babish has been an indispensable hero of the evening television news for seven years. Once, the politician was accused of illegally receiving subsidies from the European Union for the needs of one of his companies, conflict of interest and tax evasion. However, then the accusations began to multiply like a snowball thrown from the mountain. Pressure on the media, cooperation with the security authorities in his early years, abuse of power, dark manipulations with his own son from his first marriage…
At that time he was Minister of Finance and First Deputy Prime Minister. As a result, under pressure from the street, both stalls had to be abandoned. But Babis did not give up. As the leader of the ANO movement he founded, which won parliamentary elections in the fall of 2017, he won the right to become prime minister and form a cabinet. At the end of 2021, again under the pressure of mass protests, he again left the government, resigning as chief of staff, but now focused his efforts on storming Prague Castle.
This politician is not suspected of sympathy for Moscow or Beijing, he is a figure consistently loyal to the general direction of the EU and NATO. As prime minister, Babiš remained in the memory of his fellow citizens for his actions in collecting taxes, his ruthless fight against “black money” and his attention to solving social problems.
Literally a week before the elections, the court finally acquitted A. Babish of all charges of fraud with EU subsidies, which greatly increased his chances.
Retired General Petr Pavel is seven years younger than the former prime minister and does not have that experience of participating in political battles. But he has the “trump cards” of him. As the first Eastern European to chair the NATO Military Committee, the general established strong ties in EU structures, gained a reputation as a staunch supporter of the ideas of European integration and loyalty to the North Atlantic military alliance. In our turbulent times, a person with big stars on his shoulders has a good chance of making a political career.
Even the fact that forty years ago he was a member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, served as a military intelligence officer and even, as they say, headed the party organization of his secret division, does not interfere with this applicant. It seems that with all the subsequent activities, Peter Pavel managed to “rehabilitate” himself in the eyes and mind of his fellow citizens.
During his election campaign, Pavel promised not to divide society with all kinds of scandalous statements (a hint to Zeman), to support small and medium-sized businesses, and to continue his predecessor’s line of tightening immigration control.
Now the Czech Republic is waiting for the second round of the presidential elections: the vote will take place on January 27 and 28.
Observers tend to believe that Petr Pavel has the best chance of winning. By the way, there is a purely “statistical” confirmation of this: Danushe Nerudova, who took third place, and Pavel Fischer, fourth in the first round, already called on their voters to vote for the general. If this happens, then Peter Pavel will receive a solid raise.
Although Babish does not intend to sit idly by in the days remaining until the second round, he himself assures that his electoral appeal has not been exhausted either.
Two thirds of all registered voters in the Czech Republic participated in the first round of voting: this is the best result in the history of presidential elections.