New Czech President Assures Firm Western Ties

The recent presidential elections confirmed that a large part of Czech society strongly supports democratic values and the Czech Republic’s firm anchorage among Western nations.

This is illustrated by the overwhelming victory of Mr Petr Pavel, a retired army general, over the populist oligarch Mr. Andrej Babiš.

Mr. Pavel won with the support of more than 58 percent of the electorate, while Mr. Babiš fared badly, winning less than 42 percent of the vote despite his massive and openly unscrupulous campaign. Voter turnout was just over 70 percent, a record high for a presidential election. Mr. Pavel, who ran as an independent, is a former chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, the alliance’s top military body, and was widely praised for his tenure. He previously served as the Czech chief of staff. Mr. Pavel was also awarded France’s highest military honour for his personal command of a rescue operation of besieged French troops during the civil war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Mr. Pavel did particularly well in large cities and among liberal voters who appreciated his campaign, which focused on democratic values such as honesty, truth and fairness. His calm demeanour and military background also helped him in many rural areas. Mr. Pavel has repeatedly made it clear that the Czech Republic is a staunch NATO and EU ally, which he sees as a fundamental part of the Czech Republic’s international orientation. He has been a strong supporter of Ukraine against Russian aggression and has taken a realistic view of threats from China. Unlike the outgoing president, Miloš Zeman, who was notorious for his support of China and Russia (at least before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022), Pavel is widely expected to continue the legacy of the first Czech president, the internationally renowned Václav Havel.

Mgr. Radek Werich

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