What awaits Petr Pavel in his first 100 days as Czech president?

This year will see the new president look to create a culture of openness at Prague Castle while boosting Czechia’s reputation abroad.

William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 02.02.2023 11:39:00 (updated on 02.02.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

Petr Pavel’s election as the next Czech president promises to usher in a new era at Prague Castle. From the reorganization of the presidential office to the head of state’s attitude to international relations, Pavel wants to profoundly change the status quo.

He has a powerful personal democratic mandate to do so. Almost 3.4 million people voted for Pavel in the second round of the presidential election, one of the highest numbers in the history of Czech democratic elections.

Before his inauguration as the new president on March 9, Pavel will meet other Czech constitutional heads, including the prime minister and the heads of the two chambers of parliament. Pavel is also expected to meet with outgoing President Miloš Zeman, and he is currently deciding his personnel to take over operations at Prague Castle.

And after his inauguration, the real work of the new president will begin.


Pavel will officially become Czech president on March 9, with the term of Zeman ending at midnight on March 8. 

The inauguration ceremony will take place in Vladislav Hall at Prague Castle. Members of parliament and senators will gather to witness Pavel taking the presidential oath. 

“The president takes the oath with his hand placed on the Constitution, in the hands of the president of the Senate. Then, the national anthem will be played, 21 gun salutes will be fired, and the new president will make a speech,” said Miroslav Sklenář, a long-time authority on Czech presidents.

New era at Prague Castle

One of Pavel’s pledges as president has been to change the culture at Prague Castle, including by making the historic complex much more open to the public. Among other things, this is predicted to mean the removal of unpopular security checks at the Castle entrance.

Pavel has also committed to communicating more openly with the media than his predecessor Zeman. And as part of a full overhaul of Castle staff, the president-elect is reportedly keen to remove all officials who worked with President Zeman.

Some members of the new president’s team have already been confirmed. For the first time ever, the chancellor at Prague Castle and head of Pavel’s staff will be a woman. Jana Vohrálíková will take up the role, having already served as the head of the Senate administration. 

The role of official presidential spokesperson will also be taken on by a woman, with Markéta Řeháková moving into the post having directed communications for Pavel’s election campaign.

First international visits

According to presidential expert Sklenář, now is the time for Pavel to “prepare in advance the first trips across the border and think about where to go.” Traditionally, the Czech president’s first international visit is to Slovakia, given the close historical and cultural links between the two countries.

In keeping with his promise to promote Czechia’s pro-Western orientation within institutions such as NATO, Pavel wants to visit Poland second. Presidential rival Andrej Babiš provoked an international row by suggesting that he would refuse to send Czechs to defend Poland if it were attacked by Russia, so Pavel wants to reassure Poles about Czechia’s commitment to mutual defense within NATO.

“My second trip will be to Poland to assure our good neighbor and our good friends in the Baltics that we honor our agreements and that Andrej Babiš does not speak for us,” said Pavel before his election win.

Shortly after his victory, Pavel spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy by phone, and the president-elect said he hopes to make a trip to Kyiv together with Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová as soon as possible. This trip to the nation ravaged by war is likely to be among Pavel’s first international visits as head of state.

Pavel may also encourage further Czech military and economic support for Ukraine in the coming months, which are being seen as potentially pivotal for the outcome of the war. In an interview with Expats.cz, Pavel said that if Ukraine has the aim to “liberate all its territory including Crimea,” the Czech government “should support them” to achieve their goals.

And in the days following his victory, Pavel also spoke to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen, causing a diplomatic storm with China, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province. Pavel expressed a wish to meet Tsai Ing-Wen in person, although such a move would undoubtedly provoke an even stronger reaction from Beijing.

Other events which will already be penciled into Pavel’s diary include the coronation of British monarch King Charles III on May 6, to which Pavel will “undoubtedly be invited” along with heads of state from around the world, according to Sklenář. Pavel will meanwhile be keen to put forward Czechia’s perspective at the NATO summit in Lithuanian capital Vilnius on July 11-12, based on his deep expertise on the organization’s affairs from his tenure as Head of the NATO Military Committee from 2015 to 2018.


The Czech president’s domestic powers are limited, but Pavel will be responsible for the appointment of top judges as well as members of the board of the Czech National Bank (ČNB), while confirming government proposals for ministerial posts.

This year, the issue of appointing ČNB board members won’t come up, but Pavel will have to appoint seven new Constitutional Court judges out of the total of 15. This will include a replacement for the president of the Constitutional Court, whose mandate expires this year, although current president Zeman has expressed a wish to appoint this role himself, before his own term as president expires. His right to do this is a matter of dispute between constitutional experts.

The power of Czech presidents to interfere with government affairs was demonstrated by Zeman in recent months, as he refused to accept Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s proposal for a new environment minister. Pavel has promised to reverse Zeman’s objections to this appointment.

Uniting Czechia

President-elect Pavel has said his first priority as head of state will be an attempt to reunite Czech society. He has pledged to visit the three regions of Czechia where Babiš won more votes than him in the election—Moravia-Silesia, Ústi nad Labem, and Karlovy Vary—saying “these are regions in which bigger problems have accumulated than in other regions.”

To this end, Pavel has also promised to coordinate his work with the Czech government, in contrast to the obstructionist attitude of his predecessor Zeman. Although the president has no executive power to influence policy, Pavel has described a desire to improve the state’s communication with the public.

Pavel’s first months as Czech president will be a whirlwind of domestic and international visits, and new responsibilities for an all-new team in the presidential office. But the president-elect has made it clear that more than just a changing of the guard, he sees his election victory as an opportunity to create a new, more open culture at Prague Castle.

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