Ex-general Petr Pavel beats populist rival in Czech presidential election
Andrej Babis was defeated by retired NATO general Petr Pavel in the Czech presidential election. State statistics office results showed the 61-year-old took 58.32% of the vote. After the results were announced, Mr Babis conceded defeat in a speech to supporters.
He replaces Milos Zeman, who ends his second term in March. Mr Babis and Mr Pavel’s second-round runoff was portrayed as a contest between oligarchy and democracy. A disinformation campaign and alleged death threats marred the campaign.
Andrej Babis and Peter Pavel won the first round to replace Mr Zeman. Mr Pavel had to take to Twitter earlier this week to deny rumors of his own death circulated by a fake website and emails hosted by Yandex. After receiving an anonymous death threat, Mr Babis canceled all remaining in-person campaign appearances over fears for his safety.
After the results were announced on Saturday, Mr Pavel stated that values such as truth, dignity, respect, and humility had won. In November 1989, there were thunderous chants of “Pavel na Hrad” (Pavel to the Castle), a reference to the chants of “Havel na Hrad” that filled the streets of Czechoslovakia.
Pavel has often invoked the spirit of Vaclav Havel, the playwright, dissident, and first president of the Czech Republic after the Velvet Revolution against communism. His victory will be viewed as an affirmation that his country is firmly rooted in the West.