Since the Velvet Revolution, most visitors to Ostrava Square have come to see Pavel

Aleš Honus

Thousands of people came to Ostrava to welcome presidential candidate Petr Pavel. Masaryk Square was the most crowded since the Velvet Revolution, with an estimated five to ten thousand people. People were holding Czech flags and banners condemning warmongering.

“I believe we will see this through,” Pavel said on stage; after that, the square began chanting, “Pavel to the Castle.” This was followed by shouts of “Put Babiš in the bin.” At the end of the performance, people in the square spontaneously sang the Czech national anthem.

“We do not want the warmonger Babiš,” read the banners in the square. Volunteers from the election staff of the unsuccessful candidates Danuša Nerudová and Pavel Fischer also walked among the people and handed out leaflets and posters with Pavel’s face on them.

“You are part of a new chapter in the Czech Republic,” Nerudová said on stage.

Pavel was also personally supported by another unsuccessful candidate, Pavel Fischer. “I don’t want someone in the Castle who hides in a sweet shop,” Fischer said on stage.

He was referring to an aggressive and escalated situation during an election rally in Průhonice in the summer of 2021 when the then-prime minister hid from the chants of his opponents in a local candy shop.

At the end of his performance on Masaryk Square, Pavel came down from the stage among the people he was shaking hands with, taking photos, and discussing with them.

In the evening, Pavel, Nerudová, and Fischer moved to the Kurnik šopa restaurant in Poruba, in front of which Pavel was tapping and distributing beer.

Pavel arrived in Ostrava by train in the afternoon. A chanting crowd was waiting for him at the Svinov station. Dozens of supporters greeted him at the station, and a great deal of media interest accompanied his arrival. It took him almost half an hour to get from the train to the prepared car.

“I didn’t expect this, I have to say I’m constantly embarrassed, but it’s beautiful. I am under no illusions that I could somehow convince many people who have long been decided in favor of Andrej Babiš. Still, I would certainly like to dispel some of the fears being spread, unfortunately quite unfairly,” Pavel said.

He thanked Macura and Vondrák

Pavel said he would like to thank Ostrava Mayor Tomáš Macur and Governor Ivo Vondrák (both ANO), who has let it be known that they will not vote for their party chair Andrej Babiš but for Pavel.

However, he did not ask them to come to support Pavel at the rally, which was called for 5 pm on Masaryk Square. “I didn’t ask them for their support. I certainly wouldn’t dare do that,” he said when asked by Práva.

“But I have to say that I appreciate it very much because it was certainly not an easy decision. What they are facing shows that they have to show personal courage. So if it’s possible, I’ll be happy to meet them and thank them for that, but I certainly didn’t ask them to do that,” Pavel said.

Babiš won the first round in the city with 44 percent of the vote, while Pavel had 30 percent.