Vlastimil Havlik

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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 »