Czech billionaire prime minister wins election

Sunday, Oct 10, 2021

PRAGUE: Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis won a general election on Saturday but will struggle to put together a parliamentary majority, meaning any new government could be weeks or even months away.

Preliminary results showed the populist billionaire’s ANO party came first with 28 percent of the vote, despite widespread accusations of financial impropriety and just a week after he was named in the Pandora Papers investigation.

The Together alliance of the right-wing Civic Democrats, the centre-right TOP 09 and the centrist Christian Democrats came in second with 26 percent with just over 80 percent of the votes counted. A grouping of the anti-establishment Pirate Party with the Mayors and Independents (STAN) movement scored 15 percent.

The two alliances would be able to form a majority in the 200-seat parliament, garnering 103 seats together to ANO’s 75, according to a projection by Czech TV.

A potential partner for ANO could be the far-right, anti-Muslim Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement led by Tokyo-born entrepreneur Tomio Okamura which scored 10 percent.

With most of the almost all ballots counted, turnout had reached nearly 65 percent, up from 60.84 percent in the previous general election in 2017.

The 67-year-old Babis, a food, chemicals and media mogul, is facing police charges over alleged EU subsidy fraud and the bloc’s dismay over his conflict of interest as a businessman and a politician.