General election held in the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is voting in a general election on Friday and Saturday, with nine parties running for seats in the 200-member lower house of the national parliament. The populist billionaire Andrej Babis’ Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO, Czech for ‘yes’) party held a 25-percentage-point lead in opinion polls in the run-up to the ballot.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s center-left Social Democrats (CSSD) and the centrist Christian Democrats (ODS), the members of the incumbent ruling coalition, are expected to stay in power with ANO at hand, but a possible alliance between ANO and the right-wing euroskeptic Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party is also on the table.

Local Media reports : The billionaire Andrej Babiss lacks the religious and nationalist wrath that Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the government Law and Justice party in Poland, and Hungarian PM Viktor Orban express.

“ANO’s political profile is as clear as the offer of the Amazon [Internet server],” Zeit writes. It points out that billionaire businessman Babis wants to rule the country like a firm.

“Liberal journalists compare Babis to former [Italian PM Silvio] Berlusconi and [U.S. President Donald] Trump and they warn that he is actually dreaming of the removal of parliamentarism. Nonsense, his supporters argue,” Zeit writes.

It also reminds of the affairs Babis has been facing in the past few months.

Food and media mogul Babis, 63, had to leave the posts of deputy PM and finance minister in the coalition government of the Social Democrats (CSSD), his ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) due to his dubious business transactions in May.

Moreover, Babis is prosecuted on suspicion of an EU subsidy fraud. Most recently, the Slovak Constitutional Court annulled the verdict of lower-level courts ruling that Babis was wrongly registered as an agent of the communist secret police StB and returned the case to the very beginning.

Zeit expresses the view that Babis bases his profile to a high extent on the hatred of elites and internationalism. “Babis naturally rejects the EU refugee quotas as well as the adoption of the euro,” Zeit writes.

At the end of the commentary, Zeit quotes Czech MEP and European Parliament Vice-President Pavel Telicka, who recently ended cooperation with Babis.

Prague Daily Monitor ,Media agencies

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