Sunday, October 17

Czech Republic votes for change and removes tycoon Andrej Babis, named in the Pandora Papers, from power

The Czech Republic has voted for the change, after four years of government led by populist magnate Andrej Babis, questioned by accusations of abuse with community funds and in the final stretch of the campaign indicated in the Pandora Papers.

In the counting of the votes after the vote on Friday and Saturday, the center-right coalition SPOLU (“Together”, in Czech) managed to overcome and surpass the ruling ANO party at the last moment, to stand with 27.7% of the votes, compared to 27.1% of the ruling formation. The third most voted list was the liberal alliance formed by the parties of the Pirates and the Mayors, with 15.5% of the votes and 37 seats.

The winning coalition is made up of three liberal and conservative parties: ODS, Top09 and KDU-CSL.

Only one more party has managed to enter Parliament: the xenophobic formation SPD, with 9.5% and 20 seats. In this way, the two opposition coalitions, which in the campaign made it clear that they will not negotiate with Babis the formation of an Executive, obtain a comfortable majority of 108 of the 200 seats.

The other parties with prospects of entering the Chamber, especially the Social Democrats and Communists, failed to exceed the 5% threshold required to have parliamentary representation.

A mogul in question

Babis, who started as a favorite, was singled out this week in a report by an international union of investigative journalists that revealed operations with offshore companies of numerous leaders and former politicians. According to these investigations, in 2009 it invested some 16 million euros in real estate on the French Côte d’Azur through opaque companies.

In addition, the tycoon is pending trial after the police investigation saw enough evidence of abuse with community funds of the tycoon.

The businessman from the agribusiness sector, one of the richest men in the country, has made it clear that he will only remain in politics if he manages to form a coalition to create a government, something that the results of the polls have left in limbo. Babis accepted defeat, although he regretted that the sole objective of the five-party coalitions was to remove him from power. “But that’s life,” he said in statements to the press.

Spolu seeks change with the Pirates

Fiala, for his part, celebrated his electoral victory and said after hearing the result that “change is here.” “We promised and we will do it,” added the ODS leader.

Now it is expected that the president of the country, the social democrat Milos Zeman, will empower SPOLU to form a government, although it is possible that he will entrust it to Babis, since his party has one more seat than the winning coalition.

The vice president of ODS, Martin Kupka, said that, despite the ideological uncertainties by the different members of SPOLU, his party can form a government together with the Pirates. “We want to bring change, and with the Pirate Party we can achieve it,” said the conservative leader.

The Pirates also reiterated their willingness to form a government with the right center, an Executive of which they will form five parties. “The democratic opposition will have a majority in Parliament. We will begin to negotiate a future government with the rest of the opposition,” said Ivan Bartos, the head of the formation.

Left debacle

The great surprise of the elections, with a 65.4% turnout, was the departure of both Social Democrats and Communists from the Chamber, so the left will not have representation.

“In the October 25 executive session I will make my position available,” said Acting Interior Minister Jan Hamacek, chairman of the Social Democratic CSSD party.

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