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July 24, 2018 12:00 am | FILED UNDER: opinion

Babis Afraid Of Voter Backlash Shuns Reform

By ČTK Andrej Babis

Prague, July 24 (CTK) – When billionaire Andrej Babis entered politics a few years ago, he applied the businesslike style of dealing with problems and seeking solutions and was not burdened with ideological disputes, but he seems to be afraid of voters now, Marek Svehla has written in latest issue of weekly Respekt.

 

This can been seen in his attitude towards migration, Svehla says.

 

From the rational point of view, it would be absolutely no burden for the Czech Republic to accept hundreds to thousands of asylum seekers a year. There are state institutions that would deal with the situation and there is the labour market that badly needs more workers.

 

Babis knows well that a more open stance on migration would strengthen his position in Brussels and improve his relations with German and Italian politicians.

 

Moreover, the popularity of his ANO movement is permanently high and it is shortly after the elections when politicians deal with less popular tasks.

 

Yet Babis is motivated by fear of the reaction of the public, probably after he watched the successful campaign based on the rejection of migrants which helped President Milos Zeman defend his post, Svehla writes.

 

Zeman looks like an old man who is getting weaker, but Babis still believes that Zeman is strong enough to set his voters against the government if Babis happened to start considering a more reasonable migration policy.

 

Svehla says a chicken-hearted attitude decides on the government policy at the moment when it should push through reforms that the voters dislike.

 

One may expect that Babis’s government will be afraid to increase the retirement age because such a step seems socially insensitive, although inactivity in pension policy will cause markedly bigger social damage.

 

Babis will not want to fight alcohol drinking either because Czech people want cheap alcohol and the president is an alcoholic.

 

He will not promote environmental taxes because Zeman attacks anything “green” in a populist manner. Babis even started imitating Zeman in this.

 

Babis also will not want to open the Czech labour market to foreigners because Zeman decided that “this is our country.”

 

In short, the non-ideological, reasonable businessman Babis has turned into a careful protector of the voter support and public image, Svehla says.

 

Unfortunately, it may happen that Babis will focus on an anxious protection of his popularity rather than modernisation of the country. Babis has been highly popular among the people, but it is still unclear why he needs to be popular when he avoids reforms, Svehla writes.

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