Presidential candidate Petr Pavel, former Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Army, and his wife Eva arrive for a press conference in Prague, Czech Republic on Jan 28, 2023, after Pavel became the fourth president of the Czech Republic according to official results. (PHOTO / AFP)
PRAGUE – The second round of the Czech presidential election concluded Saturday, with retired general Petr Pavel winning over former prime minister Andrej Babis, according to official results.
With 99.99 percent of precincts counted, Pavel won with 58.32 percent of the vote to Babis' 41.67 percent. Turnover for the election surpassed 70 percent.
In his victory speech, Pavel called on Czechs to work together to get through differences and solve the country's various challenges
Voters cast their ballots on Friday and Saturday, with Czechs abroad heading to the polls on Thursday. The first round, which took place on Jan 13-14, featured eight candidates before going to a run-off between the two men after Pavel received 35.4 percent of the vote and Babis received 34.99 percent.
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Pavel, 61, served as head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Military Committee. He was endorsed by the current ruling government coalition. Babis, 68, the head of the Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO) party, served as prime minister from 2017 to 2021.
In his victory speech, Pavel called on Czechs to work together to get through differences and solve the country's various challenges.
"It is important that we are able to solve problems together, as one community," Pavel said at an election watch party in Prague. He said that the Czech society was not only divided by the campaign but also by the hardships the country is currently facing.
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The president of the Czech Republic is chosen in a direct election and serves a term of five years. The mandate can be held for a maximum of two consecutive terms. Incumbent President Milos Zeman's term concludes in March.