Billionaire Babis vies with ex-general Pavel for top Czech post

A retired army general who backs military support for Ukraine and a eurosceptic billionaire who has questioned NATO’s collective defence clause is contesting for the ceremonial but prestigious post of Czech president in a runoff election starting Friday.

Petr Pavel, an ex-general and Andrej Babis, the former prime minister, advanced to a second round of voting after none of the eight initial candidates received an absolute majority in the first round two weeks ago.

The polls favour Pavel, an independent candidate who came a narrow first in the first round with 35.40 per cent. Babis followed at 34.99 per cent. Three other candidates have pledged their support for Pavel ahead of the two-day ballot.

The winner will succeed controversy-courting Milos Zeman whose second and final term expires in March. Zeman divided the nation with his pro-Russia stance — until the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine — and support for closer ties with China.

He was the first president elected by popular vote. Lawmakers elected the previous two presidents, Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Klaus.

For more watch Euronews’ report in the video above.

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