Czech opposition beats out PM Babis, will look to form gov’t

Prague, Oct 9 (EFE).- The opposition center-right SPOLU coalition beat out populist Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ ANO party on Saturday in the final stretch of the vote count and will now look to form a government with its center-left ally.

With only 0.3 percent of the ballots left to tally, SPOLU had garnered 27.7 percent of the vote compared to 27.1 percent for the ruling party.

That would leave SPOLU – an alliance of three conservative parties – with 71 seats in the lower house of the Czech parliament and its ally, the liberal Pirates/Mayors coalition, with 37 seats, good enough for a comfortable majority of 108 of the 200 seats.

Those two coalitions have pledged to unite to oust ANO from power.

ANO, meanwhile, is projected to end up with 72 seats in the lower house. With 85 percent of the vote counted, the ruling party had been leading SPOLU by a margin of 28.3 percent to 26.3 percent.

Only one other party received enough ballots to win seats in parliament – the ultra-nationalist SPD party, which garnered 9.5 percent of the vote (20 seats).

The social-democratic CSSD, a minority partner in Babis’ second Cabinet, and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) failed to win seats after receiving 4.7 percent and 3.8 percent of the vote, respectively.

Babis, a controversial business magnate who had been favored to win re-election despite criticism over alleged mismanagement of the pandemic, suffered a late setback when he was named earlier this week in the Pandora Papers, an investigation into a trove of nearly 12 million leaked files that document efforts by members of the global elite to shield their wealth.

That report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists states that the “self-styled man of the people … moved $22 million through offshore companies to buy a lavish estate on the French Riviera in 2009 while keeping his ownership secret.”

Pre-election polls had shown Babis garnering 27.3 percent of the vote and SPOLU, led by former Education Minister Petr Fiala, winning just 21.4 percent.

Babis has said he will not remain active in Czech politics if he is relegated to the opposition. EFE


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