Czechs select successor to Milos Zeman in president runoff

PRAGUE (AP) — Czech voters were casting ballots on the second day of a presidential runoff election on Saturday, picking a successor to Milos Zeman in the largely ceremonial post.

Retired army Gen. Petr Pavel and populist billionaire Andrej Babis, advanced to a second round of voting because none of the eight initial candidates received an absolute majority in the first round two weeks ago.

The polls favor Pavel, an independent candidate who came a narrow first in the opening round. Three other candidates pledged their support for Pavel ahead of the voting that started Friday.

Pavel, 61, a former chairman of NATO’s military committee, is a political newcomer. He has fully endorsed the country’s military and humanitarian support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Babis, 68, is a former prime minister whose centrist ANO (YES) movement ended up in opposition after losing the 2021 general election. He is supported by Zeman, with whom he shares euroskeptic views and the habit of using anti-migrant rhetoric.

Zeman was the first president elected by popular vote. His second and final five-year term expires in March. Lawmakers elected the previous two presidents, Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Klaus.

Polls close at 1300 GMT with the results to be known later on Saturday.


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