Retired Czech army general Pavel wins presidential election

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By Euronews  with AP
Incoming Czech president Petr Pavel.
Incoming Czech president Petr Pavel.   -  Copyright  Petr David Josek/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Petr Pavel, a retired army general, decisively defeated populist billionaire Andrej Babis in a runoff vote Saturday to become the Czech Republic's new president.

Pavel, 61, will succeed controversy-courting Milos Zeman in the largely ceremonial but prestigious post. His election is expected to cement the country’s Western orientation following Zeman's decade in office.

With all the ballots counted by the Czech Statistics Office, Pavel had 58.3 per cent of the vote compared with 42.7 per cent for Babis. Turnout was just over 70 per cent, a record high for a presidential vote.

Babis conceded defeat and congratulated Pavel on his victory. He called on his supporters “to accept that I’ve lost and accept we have a new president.”

Pavel, who ran as an independent, is a former chairman of NATO’s military committee, the alliance’s highest military body. He fully endorsed the Czech Republic's military and humanitarian support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia's invasion and stresses the importance of the country's membership in the European Union and NATO.

The president picks the prime minister after a general election, one of the office’s key responsibilities, and appoints members of the central bank. The office-holder also selects Constitutional Court judges with the approval of Parliament’s upper house.

For more watch Euronews' report in the video above.