Retired NATO general elected Czech president
Petr Pavel, former chairman of the NATO Military Committee, won the presidential election in the Czech Republic. According to Reuters, in the second round he defeated billionaire and former prime minister of the country, Andrey Babish. Powell needed 58% of the vote to win.
Powell campaigned as an independent candidate and received endorsements from the centre-right government.
“Values like truth, dignity, respect and humility have won. I believe these are values shared by most of us, something worth trying to make part of our lives,” Powell told supporters and reporters after the vote.
Czech presidents have limited powers, but they choose prime ministers and central bankers, have a say in foreign policy, are opinion makers and can take political initiatives.
Pawel will take office in March, replacing outgoing Milos Zeman, who had endorsed Babis as his successor. Zeman, during his presidency, emphasized closer ties with Beijing as well as Moscow, until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Babis promised to win over voters dissatisfied with rising prices by forcing the government to do everything it could to help them.
Babis and Prime Minister Petr Fiala congratulated Pavel on his victory.
Pavel supported the Czech Republic’s commitment to the course of the European Union and NATO, and also promised to continue helping the government of Ukraine. He is a supporter of the Czech Republic’s transition to the euro zone, supports same-sex marriage and other progressive policies.
In the 1990s, Pavel served as part of a peacekeeping mission in Yugoslavia, then became chief of the Czech General Staff and chairman of the NATO Military Committee. He retired in 2018. During the election campaign Babis expressed fears that due to the situation in Ukraine, Pavel might drag the Czechs into a war with Russia. The country’s elected president rejected these allegations.