Former army chief of staff Petr Pavel defeated billionaire former prime minister Andrej Babis in a presidential runoff vote and became the fourth president of the Czech Republic on Saturday.
According to the Czech Statistics Office, Pavel won 58.3% of the vote with just over approximately 3.3M votes out of the nearly 8.25M votes cast in the runoff.
Pavel's win is not just a victory for liberal democracy over oligarchic populism, it's also a humiliating rebuff for Babis — who ran an ill-tempered campaign and portrayed Pavel as a warmonger for his support of military aid to Ukraine. He represents the whole of society and can act as an independent, no-nonsense, dignified president unaffected by divisive party politics.
A strong advocate of Czech membership of the EU and NATO, Pavel — a former soldier and a KGB-trained spy during the Communist era — could potentially drag the country into a bigger war with Russia if he fulfilled his pledge to aid and support Ukraine. Furthermore, a president who openly supports unpopular policies will bring disorder to the Czech Republic.