Pavel edges Babis in first round of Czech presidential vote

PRAGUE (AP) — Retired army Gen. Petr Pavel has narrowly defeated populist billionaire Andrej Babis in the first round of the Czech presidential election to set up a runoff vote between the political newcomer and the former prime minister. Pavel and Babis advanced on Saturday to a second round of voting because none of the eight candidates seeking the country’s largely ceremonial presidency received a majority of votes in the initial round. The ballots from 99.9% of polling stations had been counted by the Czech Statistics Office. Pavel had 35.39% of the vote compared with 35.00% for Babis. Czechs are electing a new president to succeed Milos Zeman.