Election fever hits Czech Republic ahead of general elections
As the Czech Republic prepares for early general elections, the populace is holding its breath in anticipation of a possible coalition between the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the communist KSCM party and the surprising surge in popularity of ANO, run by controversial businessman Andrej Babis.
“They speak differently; they present themselves differently from the traditional parties,” market research company PPM Factum director, Jan Herzmann, told Radio Praha Oct. 21, commenting on the ANO project.
“They are slightly populist. They promise what the people want to hear, especially fighting corruption, and the leader, Andrej Babis, has convinced people he is not going to politics for money; he is rich enough,” Herzmann added.
Andrej Babis, who made his fortune through the agricultural sector, is currently the Czech Republic’s second richest person. He also owns the MARFA media group which publishes the leading dailies Lidove noviny and Malada fronta. Babis was accused by the media earlier this month of having collaborated with the Communist-era secret police, the StB. Babis denied the allegations saying that this was part of a slur campaign ahead of the elections.
According to pre-election polls, the ANO project may get anything between 9 and 19 percent of the vote. This would put it in the running to form a possible coalition with the winner. However, none of the other parties have indicated any inclination to form a coalition with ANO. If the SPOZ party – referred to as Zemanovci on account of the support given to them by the current Czech President and party founder Milos Zeman – fails to get five percent of the vote, this could lead to a deadlock.
“If they [SPOZ] don’t pass the 5-percent threshold, the Social Democrats and the Communists will most probably not be strong enough to form a majority coalition or a minority government supported by a left-wing majority in the lower house,” Hermann said.
Meanwhile, anti-communist protesters have burned dummies in a town in southern Moravia in protest against the possible increase in influence of the Communist Party. Reporters and bloggers have also warned that a coalition with the Communists may strip a party of credibility in the eyes of the general public.
The general election will be held on Oct. 25-26. Parties must gain 5 percent of the vote in order to gain seats in parliament. A coalition may be forged between two, three or four parties.
Photo by Brett Arnett.