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HN: Babiš heading for complicated victory in Czech election

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Prague, Oct 16 (CTK) – ANO leader Andrej Babis is likely to form a coalition government if the results of the Czech election that will be held on Friday and Saturday do not much deviate from the latest polls, which may pose a problem for him, the financial paper Hospodarske noviny (HN) wrote on Monday.

Babis strongly dislikes coalitions that depend on negotiations, compromises and achieving a majority. His style in both business and the ANO movement is the very opposite: straightforward and directive, the paper writes.

“We must ask the voters to give us as many votes as possible,” HN quotes Babis as saying shortly before the elections. Opinion polls showed in the spring that ANO would be supported by more than 30 percent of voters, while now they indicate that Babis’s party will not win 30 percent.

Babis wishes to be the boss of not only 30,000 employees of the giant Agrofert holding but also of the 10.5 million inhabitants of the Czech Republic, the paper writes.

However, irrespective of whether Babis decides to seek support from the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) or from populist Tomio Okamura (Freedom and Direct Democracy, SPD) and the Communists (KSCM), the cooperation is to be full of conflicts and disputes, HN writes.

Moreover, if Babis is forced to control the next government from the background, the conflicts will be even stronger, the paper writes.

The Czech police recently started prosecuting Babis over a suspected fraud with European subsidies for the construction of his Stork Nest farm. Aside from this, the court case about his possible collaboration with the former communist secret police StB has been reopened. Due to this, almost all parties refuse to be in the government together with Babis, HN writes.

It may happen that Babis will have to select somebody else for the post of prime minister, for example Environment Minister Richard Brabec (ANO).

Brabec, a former Agrofert manager, has been deputy prime minister for several months after Babis was dismissed from the outgoing centre-left government of Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) earlier this year.

Babis likes to emphasise that he is not one of “the traditional politicians.” He certainly has a different background – he owns a media and industrial empire. Together with his possible post of prime minister, this combination would create a situation unprecedented in Europe. According to the Forbes magazine, Babis doubled his property during his four years in politics – he is the second richest person in the Czech Republic with property worth 88 billion crowns, HN writes.

It is noteworthy to look at the change Babis has underwent in politics: in 2013, he loudly criticised all traditional parties and had no programme of his own, but his views were clearly centre-right and he had experience from big business, while now he largely depends on voters with low education, the paper writes, referring to the Median polling agency and the Behavio application.

Babis won over a part of the less educated electorate from the Socialists and the Communists. These voters are neither very loyal nor very disciplined. Babis will thus have to bribe them with new promises to prevent them from choosing a different favourite in politics, for example Okamura, the paper writes.

When an economic recession comes (and it will definitely come sooner or later), these people will be the most threatened and at least some of them will put the blame on those in power. This is why the ANO election campaign has recently changed and the more populist tone shows what can be expected from Babis in future, HN writes, citing Daniel Prokop from the Median agency.

This is why Babis began to criticise the European Union more often and why he rejects the euro, although he supported it before the previous general election, the paper writes.

This is one of the reasons why European Parliament Vice President Pavel Telicka recently left ANO. Telicka’s departure is symbolic: he is a career diplomat with excellent contacts in Brussels and a bridge to politicians similar to French President Emmanuel Macron, he is a man who opposed Babis’s isolationism, the paper writes.

Being a pragmatic businessman, Babis challenged the anti-Russian sanctions and his rule may also strengthen the ties between Prague and Moscow, HN writes.

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