Controversial Czech Prime Minister Loses Elections
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – In a significant political setback, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ ANO party lost the elections after revelations that he had hidden millions in taxable assets.
Czech center-right opposition group Together received most votes, official results showed.
Together and another opposition group, the liberal Pirates/Mayors, were on track to win a combined 108 seats in the 200-seat lower House of Parliament.
Both parties to form a new government with allies who will have a combined majority of seats.
The outcome wasn’t what polls had suggested. But in recent days, Babis had come under pressure over revelations that he put $22 million into shell companies to buy a chateau property in a hilltop village in Mougins, France, near Cannes.
The shell companies and the chateau were not disclosed in Babis’ required asset declarations, according to documents. A real estate group owned indirectly by Babis bought the Monaco company that owned the chateau in 2018, the probe found.
BABIS DENIES WRONGDOING
Babis has said the report was meant “to harm” him ahead of the Czech Republic’s parliamentary election held on Friday and Saturday.
Babis, 67, also battled criticism during the campaign that he mismanaged the coronavirus pandemic, stoked fast-rising debt with handouts, and tended to his business interests in office.
Babis has denied all the accusations.
However, “We have brought a chance that we will stop getting in debt, that we will remain a part of democratic Europe,” Together leader Petr Fiala, 57, a former political science lecturer and university rector, told reporters.
“Within 24 hours, negotiations will take place with the leaders of the Pirates/Mayors. The results are clear, the democratic opposition won a clear majority.”
Results from 99.97 percent of voting districts counted, Together was seen winning with 27.78 percent pulling ahead of ANO, which received 27.13 percent of the vote. The Pirates/Mayors group got 15.6 percent, according to official results.
Babis said, “there were five parties against us, and they had only one program to remove Babis.” He added that the opposition had “emphasized various made-up scandals” to beat him.
The billionaire leader asked for more time.
In-office since December 2017, Babis had sought another four years in power by pledging to raise public sector wages and pensions further.
He also criticized the European Union and migration.
Opponents have condemned his policies as raising the public debt. They have long criticized what they view as conflicts of interest related to the prime minister’s business empire.
Babis is a close ally of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whose government faces similar corruption allegations.
Orbán, who shares Babis’ anti-migration and EU skepticism, supported the Czech prime minister’s reelection bid and even attended an election rally.
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