Final phase in the Czech presidential election

In the Czech Republic, the three leading candidates - ex-prime minister Andrej Babiš, former general Petr Pavel and economics professor Danuše Nerudová - are in the final phase of their campaigns before the first round of the presidential election on Friday and Saturday. Commentators are at odds over which candidate is best qualified for the highest office of state as well as over the direct election procedure.

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Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

At least fulfil the main requirements

Journalist Ondřej Houska takes stock of the top three candidates in Hospodářské noviny:

“From the president of the Republic I expect adherence to the constitution and an emphasis on a clear pro-Western orientation of the state. ... Petr Pavel and Danuše Nerudová clearly fulfil these two main criteria. ... And Andrej Babiš? His rhetoric regarding the West or the war in Ukraine is not so clear. But I think that as president he would behave the same way as he did when he was prime minister - more like a bull in a china shop, lacking any deeper knowledge of the issues and what he really needs to do. ... Unlike Viktor Orbán in Hungary, however, he would not seek to extract the Czech Republic from the community of Western democracies.”

Pravda (SK) /

Direct elections no cure-all

Pravda is dissatisfied:

“Although we know that the man who will probably become the new Czech president, retired General Petr Pavel, had a successful career in Nato, we know nothing about his political skills and views. The mere fact that he manages to take the positions expected of him in televised debates and seems to be a pleasant person when meeting with citizens is not enough. ... The Czech Republic, like Slovakia, has switched to direct presidential elections because previously there were behind-the-scenes games in parliament that made the election of the head of state impossible. However, direct elections are no real gain. It would be worth considering whether a combination of the two systems would not be advantageous: MPs could propose candidates for whom the citizens could vote directly.”

Respekt (CZ) /

Poor form

Respekt criticises French President Emmanuel Macron's decision to meet with Andrej Babiš in Paris just before the elections:

“Macron is interfering in the Czech presidential election by receiving Babiš. As far as we know he is not meeting the other potential finalists, Petr Pavel and Danuše Nerudová. Instead, he is backing a politician who is under investigation in France for suspected money laundering and tax evasion; a man who faces a massive conflict of interest at home and who is zigzagging on support for Ukraine. Anyone is free to meet anyone, but the French president could have waited until the Czech voters had made a final decision about who will occupy Prague Castle.”