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The new president of the Czech Republic is Petr Pavel, supporter of NATO and opponent of the Kremlin

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On Saturday evening, January 28, the regular presidential elections in the Czech Republic came to an end. The victory, which sociologists have already talked about, was won by retired General Petr Pavel, a former Czech chief of staff and former chairman of the NATO military committee.

He obtained 58.32% of the votes of Czech voters, and his opponent in the second round, the country’s former prime minister, billionaire and leader of the ANO-2011 movement, Andrej Babiš, obtained the support of 41.67% of the population. Czechs who After the results were announced, Babiš admitted defeat and winner Peter Paul turned to his supporters in the country’s capital. First, he said there were no winners or losers among those who voted. “I see that values ​​such as truth, dignity, respect and humility have won in these elections. I am sure they are shared by the vast majority of us, and it is worth d try to integrate them into our daily life and bring them back into politics,” stressed the fourth President of the Czech Republic.

The leader of neighboring Slovakia, Zuzana Chaputova, personally visited Petr Pavel’s campaign headquarters to congratulate him on his victory. Among the foreign leaders who initially sent congratulations were Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyyyy, Polish President Andrzej Duda, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Hungarian President Katalin Nowak, French President Emmanuel Macron, Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.

The correspondent of the Russian service media asked political analysts living in Prague to summarize the results of the presidential campaign that has ended.

There will now be much more mutual understanding between Prague Castle and the country’s Foreign Ministry

We know about Peter Pavel that he is very skeptical not only about the leadership of the Kremlin, whose policy he calls nationalist, but also about the possibility of democratic changes in Russia. “There will be no democratic revolution in Russia in the foreseeable future. Not only because of the strength of the regime, but also because of the mentality of many Russians,” he said in an interview with Politico in the fall.

Like the leaders of the Baltic countries and a number of other EU countries, Pavel believes that it is not possible to accept young Russians fleeing the mobilization in his country: “This is not is not an uprising against the regime, nor aid to Ukraine. These Russians still believe that Ukraine should be punished, they just don’t want the general public involved in this,” he said in the same interview. Some political observers believe the fourth Czech president is will stick to the line of Vaclav Havel, and thus move away from Euroscepticism and sympathy for Russia – that is, from the lines to which Vaclav Klaus and Milos Zeman adhered.

The international columnist of the Czech newspaper Hospodářské noviny, Ondrej Soukup, describes Petr Pavel as “a spokesman for the aspirations of that part of the country’s society which associates itself with Vaclav Havel and which has suffered in recent years because its candidates lost “. “And here there will be no halftones, because Petr Pavel, who worked in the NATO apparatus, is indeed a convinced ‘Atlanticist’ and will do everything possible to keep the Czech Republic on this way,” he said in an interview with the Voice. of America Russian Service Correspondent The Czech Republic is a parliamentary republic, and the president here does not have such great powers as the head of government. However, after a period of confrontation between the president, the government and the parliament, as was the case during the last years of Zeman’s presidency, many in the Czech Republic now hope for a period of understanding and cooperation between the different branches of government will come .

Ondřej Soukup notes in this regard that now there will be much more mutual understanding between Prague Castle (the residence of the country’s president) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, especially since the president still has certain powers in the field of foreign policy. of military training, a columnist for the newspaper Hospodářské noviny notes: “In fact, he served in active military units for a relatively short period, and he is more of a diplomat than a brutal warrior of the 1994 model of Alexander Lebed. We all understand what the Czech army is like and what career path General Pavel followed.

“Andrei Babish may not meet this ‘happy moment’ alone”

If, according to the results of the first round of presidential elections, the gap between the two main candidates was less than half a percent, then in two weeks the gap was more than 16%.

Political scientist Ivan Preobrazhensky explains that the voters of only one candidate in the first round went to Babish – the far-right politician, former ambassador to Russia and Ukraine Yaroslav Bashta, who received 4.45% of the vote. While Pavel was supported by all the liberal candidates who failed in the second round: the former rector of Mendel University in Brno Danusha Nerudova (13.92% in the first round), as well as senators Pavel Fischer ( 6.75%) and Marek Gilscher (2.56%).“The turnout in the second round was a record for the Czech Republic in general in the entire history of democratic elections in recent times – over 74% , and in the first round it was 68%. And Babish had the only chance – to achieve what is called in Russia “drying out participation.” That is, to make sure that as many liberal voters as possible come to the conclusion that the election is a “dirty business” and would simply not come to vote. And then, with a turnout below 60%, Babish’s disciplined electorate could have brought him victory. But everything turned out to be exactly the opposite, ”explains the expert.

In the interval between the two elections, there was speculation on social networks that if Andrei Babish lost, with his political movement, he could try to take revenge in two and a half years in the parliamentary elections and become the Prime Minister again, who has more powers than the president of the country. uh

Ivan Preobrazhensky assesses this prospect with caution. “Theoretically, this possibility cannot be excluded. In the last legislative elections, his movement ANO won numerically the first place. But given the voting system in the Czech Republic, she ended up in second place. As a result, the chances of repeating this, given the still difficult economic situation in the Czech Republic, are quite high. It is a traditional story – when, after the appearance of economic problems, people look to the previous government, which they consider a “golden age”, even taking into account that the cause of the serious current difficulties are the mistakes made by Babis during his tenure as Prime Minister.

But it must be taken into account that Andrei Babish himself may not meet this “happy moment” in the broad sense”, specifies the interlocutor of media. According to Preobrazhensky, although before the first round of other charges, including those of corruption. “It is known that immediately after the court decision, the police launched new investigations. As a result, for Andrei Babiš, the victory in the presidential elections was, among other things, a struggle for his future – if he finds himself behind bars in the coming months”, notes Ivan Preobrazhensky. Ondřej Soukup does not consider this possibility. presidential elections will certainly go to the legislative elections with his party. And I think that in two years he will have a real chance of becoming the new Prime Minister. So in this sense, life does not stop,” said the Czech journalist.

“For Pavel’s voters, the topic of Ukraine and Russia, the topic of the Czech Republic joining NATO is very important”

Alexander Mitrofanov, columnist for Novinky.cz, has a different view. In an interview with a correspondent of the Russian media service, he mentioned that during his speech after the announcement of the results of the second round, the losing candidate said: “Forget Babish, he won’t be anymore. There will be an ANO movement with which we want to win the next legislative elections.

And at the request of one of the journalists to tell his political future, he declared: “Wait for the presidium of our movement at the beginning of February, and he will decide my fate.

“After some time, in an interview with the Prima TV channel, he demanded not to call him ‘Deputy Babiš’, emphasizing: ‘I am citizen Babiš’. And by the way, on his Twitter profile , he also replaced the word ‘MP’ with the word ‘citizen.’ And there is reason to believe that if Babish leaves politics and moves away from the leadership of the ANO movement, then this movement will achieve nothing by himself,” says Alexander Mitrofanov.

Describing Babiš’s campaign before the second round, the media interlocutor points out that it was full of lies and insinuations. Thus, there was a message that Petr Pavel, in the event of a victory, intends to announce mobilization in the Czech Republic in order to send reinforcements to the Ukrainian armed forces. And then misinformation circulated that he had died suddenly, to which the retired general reacted on Twitter as follows: “I am alive. I never thought I would write this on the net… The anti-campaign has reached a new low.

Andrei Babish publicly condemned this action, but, as Alexander Mitrofanov notes: “All this drove the voters away from Babish, and they came in large numbers to the election participants. The fact is that the subject of Ukraine and Russia is very important for these voters, the subject of the Czech Republic joining NATO is very important, and Babish managed to blurt out in one televised duels that if Russia attacks the Baltic countries and Poland, it will not send Czech soldiers there. That is to say, he challenged the fifth clause of the Washington Treaty, which refers to NATO solidarity. That in itself was a very strong impetus to vote against Babiš.

And by the way, the message that Pyotr Pavel is supposed to be dead, it turned out, came from Russian servers. And this, of course, strengthened the confidence of Petr Pavel voters that if Babis is not directly related to Russia, then in any case Russia is interested in his winning these elections . Moreover, they went to the polls and voted against him,” said Alexander Mitrofanov.

The second presidential term of Milos Zeman ends on March 8, 2023 and the inauguration of Petr Pavel is scheduled for the next day in Prague.

Copyright © 2023 The Eastern Herald.

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