The outgoing prime minister of the Czech Republic, the populist billionaire Andrej Babis, will meet with President Milos Zeman, an ally of his, on Sunday in the hope of maintaining power despite his defeat in the legislative elections.
Although the first data from the scrutiny gave the populist movement ANO de Babis as the clear winner, the final stretch of the count turned the situation around and gave the victory to the center-right alliance Juntos, with 27.78% compared to 27.14% of suffrages.
Made up of the Civic Democrats (right), TOP09 (center right) and the Christian Democrats (center), Juntos would have 108 seats out of 200 if it allied with another coalition made up of the Pirate Party and the Mayors and Independents movement (STAN).
But the appointment of the new prime minister corresponds constitutionally to the president Milan Zeman, an ally Babis can count on.
On Sunday, the prime minister will go to the home of the pro-Russian president, who is ill and had to vote from home. Another official meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.
Juntos leader Petr Fiala said on Saturday that he had received a “strong” mandate from voters and that “the president will have to take it into account.”
Before the elections, the head of state said that he would opt for the leader of a party and not for the leader of a coalition, tilting the balance towards the outgoing prime minister.
“I don’t see many reasons for him to do something different,” Tomas Ledeba, an analyst at the Palacky University of Olomouc (east), confirmed to AFP.
“We’ll see what the president says,” Babis said. “I am a manager, my position is in the government,” he insisted to journalists.
The elections had a participation of more than 65%, against 60.84% in the precedents of 2017.
«Yesterday I saw an extraordinary interest in the vote, it was surprising. People really want a change that improves our lives, ”Jana Selucka, who voted in southwest Prague on Saturday, told AFP.
The billionaire populist, with agri-food, chemical and media companies, has been hampered by the management of the pandemic in the country, which came to lead the world statistics of deaths and infections per inhabitant.
He was also charged with alleged fraude in subsidies from the European Union and, as revealed by the Pandora Papers, of buying properties in the south of France in 2009 with money from companies in tax havens.
For Ott Eibl, director of the department of political science at Masaryk University in Brno, Pandora’s revelations did not particularly weigh on the vote.
“There are so many cases of corruption that many voters have become insensitive,” he said.
According to Forbes, a Czech fifth fortune, Babis ran a minority government with the Social Democrats, tacitly backed by the communist party that had ruled the former totalitarian Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989.
This last formation obtained only 3.6% of the votes and was left out of Parliament for the first time since the Second World War.
Among the other parties, the extreme right-wing anti-Muslim Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement, led by Tokyo-born businessman Tomio Okamura, stood out, obtaining almost 10% of the vote.
The economy of the Czech Republic, of 10.7 million inhabitants and a member of the European Union, is recovering after the pandemic.
But the recent increase in pensions and administration salaries have triggered the public deficit.
In its campaign, ANO attacked clandestine immigration and pledged to protect fossil fuel vehicles or the traditional Czech energy mix, which is based on nuclear power.