Andrej Babis


Babis’s Unpredictable Partners

Agrofert, Andrej Babiš, ANO, Czechia, KSCM, Miloš Zeman, SPD, Stork Nest, Tomio Okamura, Zdenek Ondracek

Prague, March 10 (CTK) – ANO leader Andrej Babis has been trying to form a bloc in parliament which could push through his plans and on which he could lean, but he is confronted with the very unpredictable human factor of the partners he has chosen, Josef Koukal writes in daily Pravo today.


The road that Babis, who has been negotiating about his possible second government since January, decided to take together with the Communists (KSCM) and the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) after the general election last autumn seemed broad and easy. However, it becomes obvious that there are many bumps and potholes on this road, Koukal says.


Unless Prime Minister Babis is ready to offer a reasonable compromise, namely a coalition government from which he would be absent until his prosecution over a suspected subsidy fraud is dealt with, he has to rely on the above two parties which can never be fully understood or trusted and which neither the Czech public nor the European Union considers a good company, Koukal writes.


This week, Babis could see how tricky it is to be depending on extremist partners, he says.


The ANO, the SPD and the KSCM have a comfortable majority in the lower house of parliament and their alliance rejected the dismissal of SPD leader Tomio Okamura from the post of the house’s deputy chairman which the democratic opposition demanded after Okamura said there were better (Jews) and worse (Roma) Holocaust victims, Koukal writes.


To maintain his majority bloc, Babis skilfully negotiated to avoid the sacking of KSCM MP Zdenek Ondracek as head of the lower house commission supervising the General Inspection of Security Corps (GIBS). But Ondracek, a former member of the communist-era riot police that had beaten participants in calm anti-communist demonstrations in 1989, was forced to resign on his own after massive rallies were held in several Czech towns, protesting against Ondracek and Babis, Koukal says.


President Milos Zeman, who has not set any deadline for the formation of the next government thanks to which Babis has a good negotiating position, is eager to use any opportunity to settle his accounts with anybody who opposed him. The inauguration address that Zeman delivered on Thursday was one of the worse speeches made on solemn occasions in this country, Koukal indicates.


Okamura, Ondracek and Zeman have caused a lot of problems for Babis. And it would not have been so hard to avoid these problems: it would suffice if Ondracek apologised for his work for the communist riot police, if Okamura thought twice before making a statement and if Zeman let his advisors include a few phrases worthy of a statesman into his inauguration speech, Koukal writes.


Such a thing could not have happened in the ANO movement or the Agrofert holding, he says, indicating that the party and the giant holding are fully under the control of Babis.