The Czech Republic will hold the first round of presidential elections today.
Three candidates currently lead in the polls, including former prime minister Andrej Babiš, retired army chief Petr Pavel, and economist Danuše Nerudová.
Though all three were expected to reach an even 27% of the vote in the first round, Nerudová appears to be falling behind in the most recent polls. Babis has recently seen a boost after being acquitted of charges on subsidy fraud this week. However, he remains a polarizing figure as he opposes further aid to Ukraine despite the Czech Republic being one of the leading supporters of Kyiv. Pavel has the highest chances according to final opinion polls.
As no candidate is expected to achieve an outright victory in the first round, a runoff will likely take place two weeks later, with Pavel favored to win. In the less likely case that Babiš wins, his policy initiatives would likely clash with the country’s center-right cabinet, and he would be expected to maintain friendly ties with Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán. On the other hand, Pavel and Nerudová would adopt a strong, pro-Western agenda and continue the government’s support of Ukraine.
Madeline McQuillan is an Analyst for Foreign Brief and a contributor to the Daily Brief. Her expertise is in European politics and transatlantic relations, and she’ll be pursuing a Master’s in European and International Public Policy at the London School of Economics starting in Fall 2022.