Czech Parliament votes down government, strips PM of immunity ahead of presidential election

  • Petr Boháček
  • 19.1.2018 19:58

The Czech Parliament voted to strip Prime Minister Andrej Babis of his immunity over fraud charges on 19 January, two days after Babis lost the vote of confidence for his minority government and one week before the second round of highly-contested presidential elections marked by disinformation campaigns.

Andrej Babis, the agriculture billionaire/populist ANO party leader that won nearly 30% of the vote in October 2017 elections, is being investigated for a €1.9 million EU subsidy fraud. Despite flirting with the far-right anti-migrant SPD party, the Communists and placing controversial individuals to lead security bodies, ANO’s government was rejected by all eight other parliamentary parties.  Babis will be awarded a second attempt to form a government by pro-Russian President Milos Zeman, a fellow anti-immigrant populist. Meanwhile, Zeman will be challenged by pro-Western Academy of Sciences President Jiri Drahos in the 26-27 January presidential elections. ANO’s former coalition partners, the Socialist (CSSD) and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) hold the best prospects to join Babis’ party in the next government, especially since the PM signalled he did not have to be a part of it. While Prague’s foreign policy does not look to change, Zeman’s loss and a fair investigation of Babis’ fraud charges could offer optimism to worrying political developments across ex-Communist countries of Central Europe.

About author: Petr Boháček

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