Petr Pavel, the former NATO general, the new president of the Czech Republic
The Czechs yesterday elected a pro-EU and NATO reserve general as their new president. Petr Pavel defeated the millionaire and populist Andrej Babis, a highly controversial businessman and politician, a defender of Putin (until the invasion of Ukraine) and prone to clash with the principles and values of the European Union.
Pavel, 61, was running as an independent and won with 58.2% of the vote after a very dirty campaign. Babis accused him of being a spy for the USSR and compared him to Putin.
Pavel admitted that joining the Communist Party during the dictatorship was a youth mistake, an honesty that earned him the support of the majority.
He was a blue helmet during the Balkan war
He was a peacekeeper during the Balkan war in the 1990s. His unit participated in the rescue of 50 French soldiers trapped between two fires, a heroism that earned him the French Croix de Guerre. His prestige as a soldier led him to the NATO headquarters in Brussels, where he came to chair the military committee, a key body of the Alliance.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala has praised his career and his ideals. Pavel, for example, is in favor of the Czech Republic adopting the euro, while the more eurosceptic conservatives believe that the crown is better for an exporting economy like the Czech one.
The presidency is a primarily ceremonial office. The president, however, has a lot of prestige and retains the privilege of choosing the prime minister, as well as the judges of the Supreme Court and the executives of the Central Bank.
Pavel's victory removes not only Babis but also his predecessor, Milos Zeman, from power. Both Babis and Zeman share his animosity towards the EU and his friendship with Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary. The rhetoric against immigration and the LGTBI collective loses two speakers in the Czech Republic.
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