Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has been re-elected chairman of the ANO party that he founded seven years ago, running unopposed at the party’s congress on Sunday. Polls show Mr. Babiš remains the most popular, trusted politician in parliament, and ANO would win general elections if held today. So, what direction is he looking to take the party – and the country?
The Pirate Party has elected software specialist Marcel Kolaja to lead the
party in elections to the European Parliament in May.
At a party conference at the weekend the party outlined bold ambitions, including gaining twenty percent of the vote in the European elections and winning the next general elections in the Czech Republic in 2021. The party has no seats in the European Parliament at present.
Party leader Ivan Bartoš said the party would focus on linking up domestic and European issues in its campaign, which politicians had failed to do in the past.
The owner and chief presenter of the country’s most controversial television channel, Jaromír Soukup, has announced the creation of his own political movement. While it is not yet clear in which elections he intends to run, the move is expected to shake up the Czech anti-establishment political scene quite a bit.
When Andrej Babiš’s government published its manifesto in June 2018, it vowed to come up with new measures to combat corruption, including laws protecting whistleblowers and the regulation of lobbying. However, some of the country’s leading anti-corruption NGOs say the ANO-led government have been slow to deliver on those promises.
Government leaders ANO would have won elections in November with 29.5
percent of the vote, virtually the same as they achieved in the last
general elections, suggests a freshly released CVVM poll. Most respondents
answered the survey prior to November 12, when a scandal surrounding ANO
leader Andrej Babiš’s son broke.
The Civic Democrats placed second in the poll on 14.5 percent, just ahead of the Czech Pirate Party on 14.0 percent. Some 10.0 percent of those surveyed would have cast their ballots for the Communists, with 9.0 percent backing the Social Democrats, the junior party in the governing coalition. Freedom and Direct Democracy would achieve 7.5 percent, the poll indicated.
Representatives of the Pirate Party, the civic movement Praha sobě and the
Allied Forces for Prague (comprising TOP 09, the Christian Democrats and
Mayors and Independents) which have been in talks on forming a new Prague
government signed a coalition agreement and policy program statement on
Zdeněk Hřib of the Pirate Party is to be the new mayor of Prague.
The Civic Democrats, who won the communal elections in Prague, were by-passed and will go into the opposition.
Czech Pirate Party leader Ivan Bartoš and Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of
ANO have clashed over a recent trip to Russia by ANO’s lower house
speaker, Radek Vondráček. Speaking on a Czech Television discussion show
on Sunday, Mr. Bartoš said information was lacking about the trip as no
Czech journalists had been invited to take part.
For his part, Mr. Babiš said his party colleague had gained respect on the trip to Russia, where he had brought up the poisoning of the Skripals. Mr. Bartoš said speaking about Novichok was insufficient; only a Russian apology for its use would amount to genuine partnership, he said.
While in Moscow Mr. Vondráček met two local politicians who are on EU and US sanctions lists. The lower house speaker headed the first official visit to Russia by Czech MPs in a decade.
The broader leadership of the Social Democrats has given its backing to
chairman, Jan Hamáček, who came under pressure following poor results for
the party in recent Senate and local elections. Mr. Hamáček – who took
the helm in March of this year – had asked to face vote of confidence at
a party meeting in Hradec Králové; nobody raised their hand against him
in Saturday’s poll, though three delegates abstained.
The Social Democrats’ second in command, Jiří Zimola, had also asked to have his position put to a vote of confidence on Saturday but in the end it did not take place.