Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Pehe: ANO gov't to be test of right-left system's survival

ČTK |
26 October 2017

Prague, Oct 25 (CTK) - Czech ANO largely owes its election triumph to attracting voters from very different parts of the political spectrum, which makes some say the differences between the left and the right are fading out, but only the birth of an ANO cabinet can prove if this is true, Jiri Pehe writes in Pravo on Wednesday.

The populism of Andrej Babis's ANO was effective in addressing a broad range of voters with different orientation. However, the question is how various groups of the ANO electorate will react to ANO's possible government programme and cits oalition partners whose position on the right-left axis would be clearer than ANO's, Pehe writes.

When ANO was established in the early 2010s, Babis's anti-political rhetoric first aimed at protest voters. Later, in the 2013 general election, he succeeded in attracting a large portion of right-wing voters, former fans of the rightist parties ruling in 2010-2013, Pehe writes.

In last weekend's general election, Babis siphoned off the left-wing parties' electorate, Pehe writes.

Following the 2013 election, Babis's voters mainly consisted of educated and young people from big towns, who supported him as a politician fighting corruption and seeking the country's modernisation, Pehe writes.

At present, a large part of Babis's electorate are left-oriented older people from small towns and villages, who often prefer a strong-hand government that would protect them from various challenges and threats of the world, Pehe writes.

The problem of Babis, however, is that different groups of his voters have very different expectations. To keep his "anti-system" supporters, he would have to persuade them that even while heading the government, ANO would still partly stand "aside the system." However, it is hardly possible to achieve this, Pehe writes.

Even more interesting will be the discrepancy between Babis's right-wing voters and those he made switch to ANO from the leftist parties of late, Pehe writes.

Even the symbolic steps Babis would take now, such as his choice of a coalition partner or latent supporter to form a government with will be important, Pehe says.

Although Babis first said in the wake of the elections that he would like the continuation of the previous government coalition of ANO, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), which is an arrangement that helped him siphon off the left part of the electorate, most recently he indicated his preference of a coalition with the right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS). This must be an unpleasant surprise for his left-minded voters, Pehe writes.

Babis's rightist voters, for their part, could hardly accept ANO's closer cooperation with the Communists (KSCM) and Tomio Okamura's populist Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), Pehe says.

In other words, although many assert that ANO's success confirmed the fading out of the differences between the right and the left wing, the real test will only come after ANO forms a government, Pehe writes.

Depending on the content of the government's programme and the party Babis will choose for a coalition partner, it may quickly turn out that the speculations about the evaporation of the right- and the left-wing electorates were premature and wrong, Pehe writes.

It may turn out that for a widely populist movement it is easier to attract voters in election campaigns than keep their support afterwards, when the movement has to implement a concrete government programme, Pehe writes.

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