Czech Republic now seems firmly en route to authoritarian rule

27. 5. 2017

In spite of his corruption scandals, oligarch Andrej Babiš now enjoys unprecedented popularity in the Czech Republic

Fearing the growth in popularity of his deputy and his Finance Minister, the powerful oligarch Andrej Babiš, the Czech Social Democratic Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka brought about a political crisis in his country, when he accused Babiš, his coalition partner, of unethical financial transactions and forced him to leave his post of Finance Secretary (Babiš has had himself replaced by a stooge).

Most commentators regarded Sobotka's action as hypocritical and risky. If Babiš is such a shady character (which he is), why did the Social Democrats happily work with him in a coalition government for three years?

Luckily for the Social Democratic  PM Sobotka, the situation for Babiš then became extremely complicated when recordings were published in which he brutally and in a vulgar fashion attacked his coalition partners and discussed with a journalist from a major newspaper he owns when (not) to publish various compromising material related to his political opponents.  Temporarily, it looked that PM Sobotka and the Social Democrats were winning over Babiš.

Not so.
According to the latest opinion poll, carried out by CVVM between 8th and 18th May 2017, ie. during the political crisis, created by Sobotka, Babiš and his "ANO" movement is now supported by 33 per cent of Czech voters in spite of all the revelations, published about his in recent weeks. The support of the Social Democrats has dropped to a record low of 14 per cent. 

As the Prague political commentator Jiří Pehe points out, Babiš's ANO is not really a political party. It is a one-man show, dominated by a bully. It would be very difficult for the other Czech political parties to work with Babiš. 

It is necessary - reluctantly - to conclude that the Czech votes do not seem to mind Babiš's corrupt practices, his conflicts of interest, his control over the media and his bullying.

A general election will take place in the Czech Republic in October 2017 and it now looks extremely likely that Babiš will be able to form a government on his own, without any coalition partners.

We are witnessing a remarkable phenomenon in the Czech Republic: the existing political parties of the right and of the left have basically disintegrated and a large number  of Czech citizens now place their trust in an authoritarian, corrupt bully.

Babiš wants to take the Czech Republic out of the inner circle of the European Union and move the country to its periphery. He is extremely critical of Brussels. He assumes a strong anti-refugee stance and wants to build a fortified border against the refugees. This attitude of his will be popular amongst Czech voters because the recent terrorist  attack in Manchester, England has provoked a virulent wave of islamophobia and hate in the Czech newspapers and on social media in the Czech Republic.

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Obsah vydání | 1. 6. 2017