The centrist ANO party of billionaire businessman Andrej Babiš have scored a resounding success in the Czech general elections, taking 29.6 percent of the vote and coming first in all the country’s constituencies. The result is considerably higher than the 18.65 percent the grouping received in the last elections four years ago and leaves ANO on 78 seats.
Also enjoying major success have been the Czech Pirate Party, who were not in the previous lower house but came in on 10.8 percent. The other big winners were another newcomer to the Chamber of Deputies, the anti-migrant Freedom and Direct Democracy party led by Tomio Okamura, who got 10.6 percent.
The traditional main right-wing party the Civic Democrats enjoyed a resurrection after some fallow years, climbing from 7.7 percent in 2013 to 11.3 percent this time out. The Communists, who took 14.9 percent in 2013, saw a falloff in support, picking up 7.8 percent.
The major losers on a dramatic day for Czech politics were the leaders of the outgoing government the Social Democrats, who saw their support nosedive from 20.45 percent in 2013 to 7.3 percent.
The Christian Democrats saw a slight decline, taking 5.8 percent, compared to 6.8 last time out. TOP 09 and the Mayors group reached the five-percent threshold for entrance to the lower house by the skin of their teeth, with 5.3 and 5.2 percent respectively. Turnout was 60.8 percent, a very slight rise on the figure for 2013.
ANO’s first deputy chairman, Jaroslav Faltýnek, says the party will first discuss forming a new government with their partners in the outgoing Czech government, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats. But Mr. Faltýnek said ANO would also sit down with all the other parties that had made it into the Chamber of Deputies. He said ANO chief Andrej Babiš should become prime minister in the next government.
Two of Mr. Faltýnek’s party colleagues, cabinet members Karla Šlechtová and Dan Ťok, say they would prefer to avoid entering government again with the Christian Democrats.
The Czech Pirate Party, who received around 10 percent in the general elections, have reiterated their rejection of entering a coalition with ANO or tacitly supporting a government led by Andrej Babiš’s party. The Pirates’ leader Ivan Bartoš said they would not cooperate with ANO in view of the fact that Mr. Babiš and a senior party colleague are facing criminal charges over alleged abuse of EU subsidies.
The electoral leader of the Social Democrats, Lubomír Zaorálek, says his party appears headed for the opposition benches. The grouping took only 7.3 percent of the vote after coming first last time out on 20.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the Social Democrats’ outgoing prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said he was disquieted by the rise of extremist parties, an evident reference to the anti-migrant and anti-Islam Freedom and Direct Democracy.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, says this year’s elections to the Chamber of Deputies are neither crucial nor a turning point. After casting his ballot on Friday, Mr. Zeman told reporters suggestions that these elections were of unusual importance were “just an advertising campaign”.
The president said the only crucial elections in modern Czech history had been held in 1990, when people could vote freely for the first time in over four decades.
The head of state implied that he had cast his ballot for the Party of Civic Rights, a grouping he founded and whose title previously included the word Zemanites.
The Czech National Museum is preparing a major joint exhibition with the Slovak National Museum to mark the centenary in 2018 of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, the news site iDnes.cz reported. The exhibition will open in Bratislava before transferring to Prague in October.
The show will focus on Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and other important figures in Czechoslovakia’s foundation but will also feature the stories of ordinary citizens.
The joint exhibition will be just one of a number of events in 2018 marking not only the centenary of Czechoslovakia but also the 50th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion and 25 years since the formation of the independent Czech Republic.
Sunday is expected to see rain and temperatures of up to 12 degrees Celsius in the Czech Republic. The weather should be similar throughout the first half of next week.