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Reflex: Zeman-Babiš axis emerges ahead of two important polls

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Prague, Dec 10 (CTK) – The concurrence of the campaigns ahead of the Czech general election in 2017 and ahead of the presidential election to be held three months later has given rise to the Zeman-Babis axis, Bohumil Pecinka writes in the latest issue of weekly Reflex put yesterday.
The first indication of the emergence of such an axis was the statement by Finance Minister and ANO head Andrej Babis after a meeting with President Milos Zeman that ANO may not field its own presidential candidate for the direct election, Pecinka writes.
He repeated this idea in a recent interview with daily Pravo, in which he espoused Zeman´s anti-immigration policy, Pecinka writes.
He also writes that Babis was the sole leading politician not to have criticised Zeman´s appearance next to Martin Konvicka, head of the Bloc against Islam, during the celebrations of the November 17 national holiday.
Zeman has also shunned any criticism of Babis for many months, Pecinka adds.
He writes that Babis would like to be the next Czech prime minister. The prime minister will be appointed by Zeman who will definitely hold the presidency for three to four months after the mid-October 2017 general election. The new president will only be elected in the early of 2018.
If the general election were held now, ANO would probably win it because it has long led the senior government Social Democrats (CSSD) in public opinion polls, Pecinka writes.
Babis would form a new government, but the question arises as to who his coalition partner would be because Czech politics will continue changing and fragmenting, Pecinka writes.
He writes that large parties will lose some votes and some small parties will be replaced by other small ones, which would cause Babis to form a government with new entities that may but need not like participating in government.
The president may, but need not appoint such an optically unstable team and that is why Babis needs Zeman being favourably inclined to him, Pecinka writes.
He writes that the emergence of the Zeman-Babis axis was largely influenced by the stance of Prime Minister and CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka to the above mentioned conduct on November 17.
Sobotka, under the influence of his advisers, including former prime minister and EU commissioner Vladimir Spidla, sharply criticised Zeman for his participation in the meeting with Czech populists, Pecinka writes.
He writes that Sobotka´s allies in the CSSD, headed by Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier, joined Zeman´s critics. This broke the brittle cooperation of the two top political representatives of the country, Zeman and Sobotka, which will have fatal consequences for Sobotka and the CSSD in many respects.
The opinions of the dogmatic modernisers headed by Dienstbier and Spidla overlap with the stands of CSSD membership only marginally, Pecinka writes and adds that Sobotka has gained nothing with his stance.
Sobotka only withdrew the non-aggression pact with Zeman, while he helped him strike a coalition with Babis, Pecinka writes.
He writes that if someone or something could derail the Zeman-Babis axis that would help Zeman being re-elected president and Babis becoming the prime minister, it would surprisingly be a presidential candidate who would bring together until now loose voters on the right and in the centre, Pecinka writes.
It would be something similar to what happened recently in a different context in Poland where a rather unknown politician, Andrzej Duda, 43, became president, for which he needed nothing more but to offer a change, the dynamism of the middle age, a new face, a moderate attitude to the European Union and a good health condition, Pecinka writes.
He is alluding to the health problems of Zeman aged 71.
It is probable that dissatisfaction with and fears of the authoritarian Zeman-Babis axis will be growing as the date of the two elections will be coming close, Pecinka writes.

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