Petr Pavel and Andrej Babis complete their political duel in the second round of the Czech presidential elections

Petr Pavel votes in the second round of the presidential election in the Czech Republic – Èern Vít/CTK/dpa

Polling stations in the Czech Republic opened Saturday on the second and final day of the second round of the presidential runoff election pitting retired general Petr Pavel, the favorite in the polls, against former prime minister Andrej Babis, amid a rarefied atmosphere marked by threats.

Pavel had to deny this Thursday the information about his alleged death, a matter that is already being investigated by the authorities, while Babis’ wife received last weekend a letter with insults and what appeared to be a bullet.

The retired general now enjoys 57.6 percent support ahead of the runoff compared to Babis’ 42.4 percent, according to a poll conducted by STEM earlier this week and published by CNN Prima News on Sunday. In a separate Kantar poll for public television and picked up by the DPA agency, Pavel got 53 percent and Babis 38 percent, with 9 percent still undecided.

Babis, who as prime minister clashed with the EU over migration policies and allegations of conflict of interest regarding his companies, is seeking to return to high office after his defeat in the 2021 parliamentary elections.

The former prime minister is also campaigning to become the counterweight to Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s center-right coalition, which he accuses of not doing enough to help people and businesses cope with the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades.

The Czech Republic’s parliamentary system gives limited powers to the presidency and leaves key executive authority in the hands of the government. But the head of state has certain powers in setting up the cabinet, running the army, choosing central bankers and appointing judges.

The results will be announced this Saturday between 15.00 and 16.00 (mainland Spain and Balearic Islands time), about an hour after the polls close.