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Negative presidential campaign ahead, Pavel is favourite-analyst


A role before the Czech presidential runoff will be played by a negative campaign expected mainly from Andrej Babis's team, and it depends on whether they will succeed in their effort to depict Petr Pavel as inexperienced, communist spy and the asocial cabinet's representative, Lubomir Kopeček said.

Pavel, a retired general who narrowly won this weekend's first round of the election, remains the election favourite, said Kopecek, political analyst from the SYRI National Institute.

"The strategy of Andrej Babis's campaign will be to demobilise at least some voters of Petr Pavel and of Danuse Nerudova and other candidates who supported Pavel [before the runoff]. He will try to prevent participation in the elections by the voters who reject Babis," Kopecek wrote.

He said a negative campaign is no surprise. Similar strategies were also crucial in the previous presidential elections between the first and the second round.

Babis will not be spared a negative campaign either, it may focus on his style of governance as PM, mainly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and on his cooperation with the communist secret police (StB) in the past as ensuing from StB documents in Slovak archives, Kopecek wrote.

Most of the candidates who did not succeed in the first round have voiced support for Pavel, but this does not mean that their voters will switch to him automatically.

The voters of Nerudova were mainly young people, often excited about their favourite candidate. "Public opinion polls show that a part of them are not willing to cast their ballots for Petr Pavel in the second round and that they are not going to vote in the runoff. Much depends on whether Nerudova is ready to help with an intensive activisation of these voters so that they turn up in the polling stations again," Kopecek said.

The voters of Senator Pavel Fischer, another unsuccessful candidate who supported Pavel before the runoff, are mainly elderly, often from the Catholic environment, to which his higher gains in some areas of south and east Moravia correspond.

"The probability that these voters will take part in the balloting is definitely higher, but the question is whether some of them will find Babis, with his social appeals, closer to them than Pavel," Kopecek said.

Pavel's campaign will probably strongly focus on refuting disinformation and half-truths, he said.

"With regard to Pavel's career and the emphasis he puts on order, it will be much more difficult before the second round to describe him as a representative of the liberal world and the 'Prague cafe' intellectuals," Kopecek said.

Compared with current president Milos Zeman's position before the election runoff in 2018, Babis's position is weaker as he can only rely on himself, his fans, the organisational and communication services of his senior opposition ANO movement and on the media that are part of his Agrofert holding, Kopecek said.



Prof. Lubomír Kopeček Ph.D.

Position: Senior researcher
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