Babiš lost it for himself, Zeman told Pavel

Zuzana Bönisch

Ex-premier and head of the ANO movement Andrej Babiš lost the presidential election by his own mistakes, according to the outgoing head of state Miloš Zeman. According to President-elect Petr Pavel, he should have said this at their meeting on Monday at the castle in Lány.

“Miloš Zeman began by saying that the winner of an election always tends to praise his opponent. Because if the impression is created that the opponent is excellent, his performance stands out all the more. So he was interested in how I saw it. If I was the stellar one and Andrej Babiš was so bad,” the newly elected president Petr Pavel approached the debate on the presidential election’s outcome.

“I told him that I saw it from both sides. On the one hand, I was lucky to have a whole team and a lot of supporters all over the country, and also that Andrej Babiš made fundamental mistakes,” the future president continued.

“The way Miloš Zeman saw it, Andrej Babiš had lost the election himself. Since he voted for Andrej Babiš, he can afford to be critical of him,” Pavel added.

Pavel won convincingly over Babiš in the second round of the presidential election at the end of January, leading from the start of the vote count. Pavel received nearly 3.4 million votes, the most decisive mandate for a directly elected president. Babiš received about 2.4 million votes.

Zeman had a royal laugh at Babiš’s expense during the campaign

In the past, Zeman has made no secret that he votes for Babiš’s ANO movement or himself. However, during the presidential campaign and even after it, he did not forgive himself for a few jibes.

For example, during the campaign, Zeman duly “bathed” Babiš in his statement that, as president, he would not send troops to help the invaded Poland or the Baltic states. At a press conference after a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda, he described Babiš’s words as reckless. He dismissed Babiš’s defense that an attack on Poland by Russia could not happen, commenting, “A year ago, I would have described aid to Ukraine as a hypothetical question. Well, and yet it happened.”

Duda then lashed out mercilessly at the statement by Babis, who is Slovak by birth, saying: “Maybe they could have asked him what he would do if they attacked Slovakia.”

Duda’s remark about Babiš amused Zeman enormously. His eyes lit up, and he started laughing in a way the public had not seen in him for a long time. He then turned to Duda and patted him on the shoulder for the hilarious joke.

More of Babiš’s missteps

Other failed moments of Babiš’s presidential campaign include his words in a duel on Novinky, where he laughed at the possibility that Tomio Okamura’s opposition SPD movement could win the elections or be a coalition partner of his ANO movement. He thus antagonized voters who voted for SPD candidate Jaroslav Bašta in the first round.

Babiš and his associates faced significant criticism for their election billboards with the slogan “I will not drag the Czech Republic into war. I am a diplomat. Not a soldier.”, which scared people of war. Babiš explained that he was talking about peace, not war.

Babiš’s call for people to bet on him before the elections at odds of 12:1 can also be described as a misstep. After he lost, messages started appearing on social media saying that some people had lost significant sums because they had believed him.

Zeman met with his successor Petr Pavel on Monday at the Lány castle to discuss office handover. Zeman’s mandate ends on March 8, with Pavel’s inauguration scheduled for a day later.