An ex-NATO general and top military officer entered Friday’s (13 Jan) Czech Republic presidential election as the favorite ahead of main competitors, a divisive former Prime Minister and an economist professor.
While the NATO and European Union presidents don’t have daily executive power but they can appoint prime ministers, central bankers and judges and have an influence on foreign affairs.
In two of the final polls, Petr Pavel (61), ran unassisted.
Andrej Babis (68), a former prime Minister and billionaire, was the leader the largest opposition party in parliament. He also led in the other two.
However, a separate poll shows Pavel being preferred to Babis in the likely second round. Babis used the vote in protest against the centre-right government, which he claims is too weak to help people deal with rising living expenses.
No candidate has won more that 50% in the first round. Saturday midnight is the deadline for voting. Within two weeks, a run-off will be held between the top two candidates.
There are eight candidates, but Pavel, Babis and Danuse Nerudova (44), all have a chance of making it to round 2. They expect Pavel to win more votes than Babis and give him an advantage. Fortuna, a betting company, saw Pavel as the favorite at 1-1.48 to beat Babis 3-3.40.
According to polls, Nerudova (44 year old) is the third most popular woman. This would make her the third woman to hold this job. After the collapse of Czechoslovakia in 1993, Vaclav Arel was the first to hold it. It is now held by Milos Zeman. Zeman attempted to build closer relations with Russia, China and other countries during the majority of his five year terms.
PAVEL DOUBTS VISEGRAD GROUP
Babis, a friend and leader of Viktor Orban’s Hungarian leader visited President Emmanuel Macron in France Tuesday to demonstrate his greater European connections.
Pavel disassociated himself from Orban, who has clashed over rule-of law with EU partners and has questioned central Europe’s merits in the Visegrad Group, which also includes Poland and Slovakia.
Pavel said in a Wednesday debate, “When we disagree so much about fundamental issues today, there’s an question whether this format should he abandoned altogether.”
Pavel and Nerudova voted for euro adoption and the tradition Havel’s human-rights-led, foreign policy.
Babis was at the helm from 2017-2021. Because of the subsidies he received from his Agrofert empire, Babis was found in conflict by the European Commission. This trust is in a trust. He was cleared in a case involving fraud related to EU subsidies.
Babis is the most popular candidate and has shown the most support for Ukraine. This policy is however controlled by the government. They were Kyiv’s most loyal fans.
Pavel has both a Soviet-era and western military education. He was a peacekeeper in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. From 2015-2018, he headed NATO’s military committee which advises its general secret.
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