Prague, Sept 4 (CTK) – There is no reason for Czechs to trust the rightfulness of the police effort to prosecute ANO leader Andrej Babis of fraud, as their trust in such police actions was undermined by many politicians who were prosecuted and lashed out at the police before, Erik Tabery writes in weekly Respekt on Monday.
The critics of Babis, a billionaire and former finance minister whose ANO comfortably leads party popularity polls, cannot understand why people continue supporting him in a situation where the police have asked the Chamber of Deputies to release him for prosecution over a suspected subsidy fraud, Tabery writes.
There is actually nothing incomprehensible about people’s continuing support for Babis, since the previous generations of politicians created conditions for the society’s indifference to prosecution faced by a politician, Tabery writes.
As examples of politicians who or whose aides were previously in focus of law enforcement bodies and who attacked the investigators and state attorneys, he gives former prime ministers Vaclav Klaus, Mirek Topolanek, Petr Necas (All Civic Democrats, ODS), Milos Zeman, and Jiri Paroubek (both Social Democrats, CSSD) and ministers such as Miroslav Kalousek ((TOP 09) and Jiri Cunek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL).
Why should ANO fans believe that the proceedings against Babis and his close aide, Jaroslav Faltynek, are just and fair, though many politicians challenged similar proceedings before? Tabery writes.
The same goes for Babis as well. Until recently, he declared many rivals suspicious and hailed each arrest or accusation of a rival as a symptom of an ongoing change to the better. Now that the police accused him, he suddenly calls it a conspiracy. How can the public find the truth in this chaos? Tabery writes.
By repeatedly challenging the domestic judiciary, former political leaders made a part of the public resistant to similar serious situations, Tabery writes.
A number of ANO representatives say it is the voters and the elections that will decide whether the suspicion of a subsidy fraud linked to Babis’s Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) firm is relevant. According to ANO, the decision is not up to court but up to a public balloting, Tabery writes.
This is an absurd idea because voters do not have the necessary information. If ANO wins the October 20-21 general election, it will undoubtedly view its victory as the confirmation of its own untouchability, Tabery writes.
Nevertheless, the Capi hnizdo case is serious, the suspicion of fraud is very strong and the police steps have been rational and logical, Tabery writes.
The hints by Babis, joined by ANO Justice Minister Robert Pelikan and President Milos Zeman, that the police request for Babis’s release was a wilful step by a single police officer were last week refuted by the supervising state attorney who clearly backed the investigator’s steps, Tabery writes.
Babis, on his part, has tabled nothing to indicate his position as a victim to police license, Tabery says.
On Thursday, the ANO deputies’ group said it is against the release of Babis and Faltynek to the police. ANO, together with Zeman, has been undermining the basic pillars of the rule of law. People’s guilt or innocence cannot be decided on by a fan club of lawmakers, Tabery writes.
ANO would probably act otherwise if it saw its voters disturbed, but they do not look disturbed at all. Babis also benefits from his success in changing the style of the Czech political debate, making it close to a permanent state of war. In such an atmosphere, voters do not feel the need to choose a political party in the elections, but an army, of which utter internal loyalty is typical, Tabery writes.
Simultaneously, political parties have been more and more preferring tough battlers who can attract the attention of the crowd and the media and have no scruples to deal blows all around, Tabery continues.
The Pirate Party, for example, has launched a campaign using the portraits of politicians who in its opinion should be jailed. True, it is awkward, but it attracted voters’ attention, Tabery writes.
Vaclav Klaus jr, who is battling for the ODS, has been caught telling lies quite frequently, but still the group of his fans has been growing. TOP 09 leader Kalousek, for his part, could apply for copyright to expressions such as “collaboration” and “capitulation.” This makes a number of less tough, though talented politicians being marginalised within their respective parties, Tabery writes.
The Czechs have adopted the battle mentality so much that they almost resigned from thinking. He who casts doubt on this or that political camp or who only asks unpleasant questions, is labelled a traitor, Tabery writes.
The debate is so primitive and aggressive that it keeps the political camps each in its trench. As a result, it helps no one else but the political leaders involved, Tabery writes.
Unfortunately, the voter is not choosing a party that might benefit the country, but an army that would help him defeat the most-resented party. Czechs have no positive motivation in the forthcoming elections. They evidently still have to wait to see “their Macron” emerging, Tabery concludes.