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Czechs start to vote for brand spanking new president to succeed Zeman, Andrej Babis leads discipline

Czechs have began voting for a brand new president, with populist billionaire Andrej Babis main a discipline of eight candidates in a two-day election to succeed Milos Zeman within the largely ceremonial publish.

Babis, a former prime minister, was acquitted this week in a fraud trial, which boosted his probabilities of profitable within the first spherical of the presidential election in voting on Friday and Saturday.

If no candidate achieves a majority, as polls have indicated, the highest two finishers will face one another in a runoff in two weeks’ time.

A courtroom in Prague acquitted Babis, 68, on Monday of fraud expenses in a $2 million case involving EU subsidies. The prosecution nonetheless can enchantment. Babis had pleaded not responsible and repeatedly mentioned the costs towards him had been politically motivated.

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Despite a lot of scandals, his in style assist stays sturdy, notably amongst his base, older voters.

Retired military Gen. Petr Pavel, 61, a former chairman of NATO’s navy committee, and former college rector and economist Danuse Nerudova, 44, are Babis’ predominant challengers.

The two political newcomers totally endorsed the nation’s navy and humanitarian assist for Ukraine in its combat towards Russia and see the Czech Republic’s future linked to membership within the EU and NATO.

Presidential candidate Andrej Babis arrives to cast his vote at a polling station in Pruhonice, Czech Republic, on Jan. 13, 2023. 

Presidential candidate Andrej Babis arrives to solid his vote at a polling station in Pruhonice, Czech Republic, on Jan. 13, 2023. 
(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Polls point out that not one of the remaining candidates is prone to make the runoff.

They embody Pavel Fischer, a former diplomat and adviser to former president Vaclav Havel, and Jaroslav Basta, a lawmaker for the nation’s main anti-migrant drive, the Freedom and Direct Democracy occasion.

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The present five-party ruling coalition endorsed Pavel, Nerudova and Fischer, who ran as unbiased candidates.

Babis, whose centrist ANO (YES) motion ended up in opposition after shedding the 2021 normal election, is supported by his Zeman, with whom he shares euroskeptic views and the behavior of utilizing anti-migrant rhetoric.

“We assume {that a} completely different candidate than anybody supported by the federal government must be elected,” Babis mentioned.

Zeman was the primary president elected by in style vote. His second and closing five-year time period expires in March.

Lawmakers elected the earlier two presidents, Havel and Vaclav Klaus.

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