With the election results out, all eyes are now on the ANO party and its controversial leader Andrej Babiš who is likely to be tasked with forming the next government. Will the Czech Republic be headed by a prime minister who faces criminal charges and what are the possible coalition scenarios opening up? Those are issues I discussed with political scientist Jiří Pehe, and I began by asking who are the winners and losers of these elections.
ANO’s first deputy chairman, Jaroslav Faltýnek, says the party will
first discuss forming a new government with their partners in the outgoing
Czech government, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats. But Mr.
Faltýnek said ANO would also sit down with all the other parties that had
made it into the Chamber of Deputies. He said ANO chief Andrej Babiš
should become prime minister in the next government.
Two of Mr. Faltýnek’s party colleagues, cabinet members Karla Šlechtová and Dan Ťok, say they would prefer to avoid entering government again with the Christian Democrats.
The Czech Pirate Party, who received around 10 percent in the general elections, have reiterated their rejection of entering a coalition with ANO or tacitly supporting a government led by Andrej Babiš’s party. The Pirates’ leader Ivan Bartoš said they would not cooperate with ANO in view of the fact that Mr. Babiš and a senior party colleague are facing criminal charges over alleged abuse of EU subsidies.
The centrist ANO party of billionaire businessman Andrej Babiš have scored
a resounding success in the Czech general elections, taking 29.6 percent of
the vote and coming first in all the country’s constituencies. The result
is considerably higher than the 18.65 percent the grouping received in the
last elections four years ago and leaves ANO on 78 seats.
Also enjoying major success have been the Czech Pirate Party, who were not in the previous lower house but came in on 10.8 percent. The other big winners were another newcomer to the Chamber of Deputies, the anti-migrant Freedom and Direct Democracy party led by Tomio Okamura, who got 10.6 percent.
The traditional main right-wing party the Civic Democrats enjoyed a resurrection after some fallow years, climbing from 7.7 percent in 2013 to 11.3 percent this time out. The Communists, who took 14.9 percent in 2013, saw a falloff in support, picking up 7.8 percent.
The major losers on a dramatic day for Czech politics were the leaders of the outgoing government the Social Democrats, who saw their support nosedive from 20.45 percent in 2013 to 7.3 percent.
The Christian Democrats saw a slight decline, taking 5.8 percent, compared to 6.8 last time out. TOP 09 and the Mayors group reached the five-percent threshold for entrance to the lower house by the skin of their teeth, with 5.3 and 5.2 percent respectively. Turnout was 60.8 percent, a very slight rise on the figure for 2013.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, says this year’s elections to the
Chamber of Deputies are neither crucial nor a turning point. After casting
his ballot on Friday, Mr. Zeman told reporters suggestions that these
elections were of unusual importance were “just an advertising
The president said the only crucial elections in modern Czech history had been held in 1990, when people could vote freely for the first time in over four decades.
The head of state implied that he had cast his ballot for the Party of Civic Rights, a grouping he founded and whose title previously included the word Zemanites.
Prague’s Municipal Court has sent a summons to lobbyist Marek Dalík, a
former close aid to ex-prime minister Mirek Topolánek – to begin serving
his prison sentence. In July, Mr Dalík was sentenced to five years in
prison for soliciting a bribe over a military deal.
He also has to pay a four million crown fine or he would spend an additional two years behind bars. Mr Dalík could still file a complaint with the Supreme Court but the process would not delay the start of his sentence.
The Czech upper house, the Senate, has condemned head of state Miloš
Zeman’s comments to the Council of Europe parliaemntary assembly over
It said his words appeared to legitimise the Russian annexation of Crimea. The final resolution said that Zeman should respect the lines of Czech foreign policy. A tougher resolution that the president had damaged the reputation of the Czech Republic was not adopted.
Zeman said that the annexation was now a fait accompli and suggested that Russia might compensate Ukraine through deliveries of natural gas or oil.
Zeman’s spokesman later commented that the president’s comments this week was not meant to legitimise the annexation but were a considered and realistic evaluation of the current situation.
The cabinet has rejected a proposal from ANO to abrogate a memorandum on
the mining of lithium signed last week with Australia’s European Metals
Holdings Company. However, the Social Democrat foreign minister, Lubomír
Zaorálek, said the government had agreed a measure aimed at boosting the
state’s rights to mine other materials.
ANO say the memorandum signed by the Social Democrat-controlled Ministry of Industry sells out the national interest. They warn it could lead to the Czech Republic being involved in an international arbitration case that could cost billions of crowns.
European Metals intends to mine the in-demand mineral at Cínovec in North Bohemia.
Elections to the lower house of Parliament will start a day early in some
polling stations abroad in order to make up for the time difference, the
ctk news agency reported.
The first voters will be able to cast their ballot on Thursday, October 19, in Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, the US and Canada. People will be able to vote at 108 polling stations abroad, mostly at embassies, cultural institutions or military army bases where Czech soldiers are serving in foreign missions.
Polling stations around the Czech Republic will close at 2pm on Saturday and the preliminary results should be announced a few hours later.
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Political scientist Jiří Pehe: Babiš must be feeling he has hit his limits