The polls in the Czech Republic were predicting that the ANO party of Andrej Babis was going to do well this weekend, but even the most optimistic seemed to be surprised by the margin of victory. Known as “the Czech Donald Trump,” Babis is one of the richest people in the country and campaigned on a number of issues which would sound familiar to Trump voters in the United States. When the votes were all counted, his party had taken almost 40% of the seats in Parliament, with well over a quarter of the popular vote.
One analyst on Czech television described it as, “a voting hurricane.”
The centrist ANO movement led by populist Andrej Babis decisively won the Czech Republic’s parliamentary election Saturday in a vote that shifted the country to the right and paved the way for the euroskeptic billionaire to become its next prime minister.
With all votes counted, the Czech Statistics Office said ANO won in a landslide, capturing 29.6 percent of the vote, or 78 of the 200 seats in the lower house of Parliament.
“It’s a huge success,” the 63-year-old Babis told supporters and journalists at his headquarters in Prague.
Babis is the country’s second-richest man, with a media empire including two major newspapers and a popular radio station.
The success of ANO wasn’t the entire story. There seemed to be a national rejection of globalist policies and the idea of allowing the European Union to dictate the future of the Czech Republic. Several other parties who support stong borders, ending illegal migration and challenging EU doctrine broke through and won seats in the legislature. The Pirate Party (who you may recall from the last elections in Iceland) and the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (described as being completely, “anti-migrant, anti-Muslim and anti-EU”) each took 22 seats, so Babis will have plenty of options to choose from if he seeks to create a new ruling coalition.
On the other side of the coin, the former ruling coalition of more socialist, centrist parties took a torrential beating. The Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats (who had previously been in the ruling coalition) took only 15 and 10 seats respectively. Babis only needs to rope in 23 other members to secure his majority.
Babis was rather generous to his opponents in his victory speech and subsequent interviews, insisting that he was looking to work with the EU rather than leaving it, providing the agenda could allow for Czech priorities to be supported. Among those he listed improving food quality, border security and “the fight against migration.”
In addition to those items, he called for a closer alliance with other former Eastern Bloc countries which are part of the east-west EU schism we’ve discussed here before.(Reuters)
“We certainly have an ally in Austria, Mr Kurz, who has the same view as we do on migration,” he said, referring to Austrian conservative election victor Sebastian Kurz.
“The Visegrad group must find other allies, we need Austria and other countries, in the Balkans, or Slovenia, Croatia and perhaps others,” Babis added.
The transition won’t be seamless by any means, but there’s no question that the tide has turned in the Czech Republic, just as it has in Austria, Hungary and other nations in that region. If the EU is going to survive at this point there needs to be a realization in Brussels that the open borders, socialist policies of the more western, original members of the EU can’t be the only deciding factors in the union. Angela Merkel has had a long run as the “voice of the EU” and France’s new president would no doubt like to continue in that mold, but there is no solid concensus across so many nations with very diverse histories and cultures.