Czech presidential election: outgoing Zeman joins billionaire Babis

Home"TO THE ONE"Czech presidential election: outgoing Zeman joins billionaire Babis
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Outgoing pro-Russian president Milos Zeman is opposed to his pro-European rival Jiri Drahos. - Photo credits: Petr David Josek / AP


Candidate this Friday in the Czech presidential election, the outgoing Milos Zeman wants to appoint for the second time the post of prime minister Andrej Babis, a Eurosceptic like him, who did not get the confidence of the Assembly just a week ago .

On the eve of the second round of the Czech presidential election, scheduled for 26 and 27 January, the outgoing president and candidate for his succession Milos Zeman wants to rename Andrej Babis to the post of prime minister. Speaking Monday night on the Barrandov TV channel, Zeman said he was ready to give Babis the time needed to win a parliamentary majority. It was because he could not get the support of the Assembly that Babis had been forced to resign last Wednesday.

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If he were to lose, the Czech president, whose term ends on March 7, has made no secret that he wants his latest political maneuver to maintain Babis, with whom he shares the same political line, at the head of government. The other presidential candidate, Jiri Drahos, who wants to guarantee a political renewal, has ruled out appointing Babis prime minister in the event of his victory. While some predicted his election in the first round, Milos Zeman only collected 38.77%, against Jiri Drahos, who got 26.50%. The second round promises to be tight.

Founder of Agrofert, the country's second fortune, and former finance minister, Andrej Babis pledged to fight corruption. His party, Ano - formerly Action des citoyens discontent - is also opposed to the reception of refugees and the entry of the country into the euro area, following a sovereignist and populist line dear to President Zeman. Ano led the legislative elections in October 2017, winning 29.6% of the vote.

Despite his victory, Babis quickly found himself isolated. An investigation was opened last October on the payment, about ten years ago, of a European grant of 2 million euros which his company would have illegitimately benefited. Pursued for fraud, the 63-year-old billionaire had agreed to the lifting of his parliamentary immunity. But he failed to gather the other political forces around his party and did not get the vote of confidence from parliament at the meeting last Tuesday.

The issue of migrants

The high and often provocative verb, Milos Zeman was the strongman of the Social Democratic Party, and won the first election by direct universal suffrage in 2013. He later adopted a populist political line, nationalist and xenophobic hints. In the Visegrad group (alongside Hungary, Poland, Austria and Slovakia), the Czech Republic has a clear mistrust of the European Union. Zeman looked away to the East, showing sympathy for the Russian and Chinese regimes.

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Although he excludes leaving the European Union, Zeman has many grievances, including on refugee quotas, after the migration crisis in Europe since 2015. Denouncing an "organized invasion", the Czech Republic hosted only 12 refugees. The European Union had also launched sanctions last June because of the non-respect of quotas for the reception of asylum seekers.

In the second round of the presidential election, Milos Zeman (73) is opposed to Jiri Drahos (68), a chemist by training, former director of the Academy of Sciences, who wishes to affirm the "pro-European anchoring" of his country. This liberal intends to strengthen the links between the Czech Republic and Brussels. He has received support from several pro-European candidates eliminated in the first round. Rising against "the fear, hysteria and intolerance fomented by populists and extremists," Drahos said, however, that the refugee quotas demanded by the European Union were a "bad idea".

Source: Czech presidential election: outgoing Zeman joins billionaire Babis

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