Ex-NATO general became favorite in polls before the second round of presidential elections in the Czech Republic

Former head of the NATO Military Committee, retired Gen. Petr Pavel leads opinion polls ahead of the second round of the Czech presidential election. He beat the millionaire and former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš by a narrow margin, according to Bloomberg.

According to the polls, Pavel now has 57.6% support compared to Babiš’s 42.4%. In a separate poll conducted for public television, 53% of respondents voted for Pavel, 38% for Babiš, and 9% were undecided.

The winner of the January 27-28 vote will replace President Milos Zeman. The current president, right up to the start of the war in Ukraine, supported the policy of Vladimir Putin, which caused criticism both within the country and among EU partners.

Pavel, who is running as an independent candidate, promised to strengthen cooperation with other countries in the bloc. He enlisted the support of a number of presidential candidates who collectively won over 20% of the vote in the first round.

Babiš is seeking a return to high office after his defeat in the 2021 parliamentary elections. As prime minister, he clashed with the EU over immigration policies and allegations of conflicts of interest against his companies. He positions himself as a counterweight to Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s centre-right coalition, which he accuses of not doing enough to improve the living standards of citizens.

The President of the Czech Republic has limited powers – the main executive power belongs to the government. However, the head of state has a say in the formation of the cabinet, leads the armed forces, chooses central bankers, and appoints judges.

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