Retired Gen. Petr Pavel beats populist billionaire Andrej Babis to become Czech Republic president

Pavel on Saturday won 58.3% of the vote to Babis' 42.7%.
Petr Pavel, Jan. 28, 2023

Retired Army Gen. Petr Pavel, a former NATO Military Committee chairman, defeated populist billionaire Andrej Babis in a runoff election for president of the Czech Republic. 

Pavel on Saturday won 58% of the vote to Babis' 42% with a record-high presidential vote turnout of more than 70%, according to the Czech Statistics Office, The Associated Press reported.

Running as an independent, the 61-year-old Pavel focused during his campaign on the importance of the Czech Republic's membership in NATO and the European Union and he endorsed his country's support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Pavel, who will succeed President Milos Zeman, told supporters of Babis: "We can have different views of a number of issues, but that doesn't mean we're enemies." 

Babis conceded defeat and asked his supporters "to accept" his loss.