Czech Republic: with election of Petr Pavel, return of moderate proeuropian to presidency of country

The former chief of staff will succeed the prorussian and Eurosceptic Milos Zeman. With more than 58 % of the votes, his victory was overwhelming against the former populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

by Hélène Bienvenu (Prague, Special Envoy)

Shortly after the closure of the polling stations in the Czech Republic on Saturday January 28, the results confirmed the victory that the polls had predicted: the retired soldier Petr Pavel won over 58 %. On stage in front of his supporters, the new president with the salmon tie immediately displayed himself a unifying, not hesitating to reach out to the voters of his rival, the former populist prime minister Andrej Babis: “I know that many are disappointed Because their candidate has not won. But I do not see an electorate winning or losing in this country. Values ​​like truth, dignity, respect and humility have won. I am ready to return These values ​​at the castle [seat of the presidency] and to our republic. “

Petr Pavel, who claims a Czech Republic anchored in the European Union and NATO, as well as support for Ukraine at war, will replace the prorussian and Eurosceptic Milos Zeman. His predecessor had not hesitated to display in the past his sympathy for Russia or China; He had also been the limit to go beyond his functions within the presidency. “Petr Pavel could be an erased president, which would be a good thing, that would bring him closer to the role of the president as assigned by the Constitution,” concludes Tomas Kostelecky, researcher within the Sociology Institute of the Czech Academy Sciences. Czech parliamentary democracy attributes essentially ceremonial functions to the president – even if he is the head of the armies and can affix his veto to the laws.

The direct voting method nevertheless makes presidential election the predilection election of the Czechs. Outside the HQ of Petr Pavel on Saturday, dozens of voters came to greet the man with the white beard necklace. “I voted for Petr Pavel for his honesty and his courtesy. I would have been ashamed to be Czech if Mr. Babis had won,” explains Sarka Vlkova, 44, who had voted for the only candidate in the running , the independent Danuse Nerudova, during the first round, on January 13 and 14. “It is a symbolic moment, which could well appease divisions within society and restore a climate of dialogue and tolerance, as in the time of Vaclav Havel”, estimates Michael Zantovsky, director of the Vaclav-Havel library, devoted to the former dissident and President of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003.

Andrej Babis immediately congratulated his rival, calling on his voters to recognize his own defeat. Then the billionaire hastened to play his usual anti -system card: “The opponent was very strong. It was not just the five parties in power but also the media.” During his campaign, the man of ‘Affaires had readily accused his opponent of being the candidate “of the government”.

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/Media reports cited above.