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He isn’t the country’s most important politician. In the Czech Republic, as in many European countries, the prime minister is far more powerful than the president. Nevertheless, the Czech president represents his country abroad, speaks on its behalf and generally helps set the tone and tenor of public debate, much like the American president does in the United States. And without question, the reelection of Milos Zeman — who is vulgar and sexist (not to mention aggressively pro-Russian, pro-Chinese, anti-European and anti-NATO) and has been accused of public drunkenness — will set the tone and tenor of public life in the Czech Republic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Voters in the Czech Republic are preparing for their most important election since 1989. On Jan. 26, they will begin heading to the polls to pick their next president. The winner of the first round of the two-stage election earlier this month was the incumbent Milos Zeman, who is facing a strong runoff challenge from Jiri Drahos, a pro-western centrist and the former head of the Academy of Sciences. As of now, the race is considered too close to call.

For Czechs, Zeman needs little introduction. He has spent his first five-year term excoriating migrants and Muslims, whipping up fears of terrorism, and praising President Vladimir Putin of Russia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Czech billionaire Andrej Babis adjusts his tie after meeting with Czech Republic’s president, Milos Zeman, at the Lany Castle in Lany, Czech Republic. (AP)

Czech party politics used to be fairly simple. But since 2010, its elections have repeatedly delivered instability and fragmentation. And this past Sunday’s voting shows 2017 is no exception.

As expected, Andrej Babiš’s party ANO won the Czech elections with nearly 30 percent of the vote. His victory has dominated the headlines in the United States and Europe, but the election also was striking for the collapse of the Social Democrats (ČSSD), the rise of new political forces and a fragmented Parliament with nine parties.

Why did the Social Democrats do so badly?

ČSSD’s share of the vote slumped to 7.3 percent, its worst performance since the early 1990s.…  Seguir leyendo »

A poster depicting Andrej Babis hangs on a bus stop near the town of Benesov, Czech Republic. It says, “This is not Babis’s land.” (David W. Cerny/Reuters)

The parallels are easy to draw. A rich businessman who has played on anti-establishment and anti-politician appeals looks set to win the Czech elections this week, with voters going to the polls Friday and Saturday. But the real question is not why Andrej Babis, who has inevitably been described as a Trump-like figure, has so much support. It’s why he has managed to increase his support since the 2013 elections.

In 2013, Babis’s party, the Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO), an acronym that spells “yes” in Czech, won 18.65 percent in national parliamentary elections. Its pitch was straight out of the new-party-led-by-a-businessman playbook: Trust me, I’m a successful businessman, and I know how to get things done.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tema: El miedo a convertirse en Grecia ha influido en las elecciones checas. El perfil del nuevo gobierno: ¿será europeísta o euroescéptico?

Resumen: En la República Checa, país con etiqueta de euroescéptico, se ha formado un nuevo gobierno tras unos inesperados resultados. La mayoría de los votantes han mostrado un enorme deseo de renovación y han barrido con su voto a partidos y líderes que dominaban el escenario político hasta hace unas semanas. El gobierno resultante es producto de las negociaciones de tres partidos: dos de formación reciente (TOP 09 y VV) y el ODS, partido euroescéptico que ha gobernado en este país intermitentemente (desde 1992 a 1998 y desde 2006 a 2009).…  Seguir leyendo »