President Miloš Zeman on Monday held his first meeting with Andrej Babiš since the latter’s ANO party scored a massive success in the Czech Republic’s general elections. Mr. Zeman said on Sunday that he would task Mr. Babiš, whom he described as a pragmatist rather than a populist, with forming a new government. The president said he wished to help in the creation of a stable government.
After their meeting at Lány Chateau, Mr Babis confirmed he would be officially named to the task next week.
Meanwhile, ANO are set to continue post-election talks with representatives of the other parties that made it into the Chamber of Deputies. After meetings with the Communists, the Mayors and Independents and the Social Democrats on Sunday, Mr. Babiš and his team are due to speak to Freedom and Direct Democracy and the Christian Democrats on Monday.
ANO took almost 30 percent of the vote in the elections but many other parties have expressed reluctance to go into a coalition with them, in part because Mr. Babiš and a senior party colleague are facing criminal charges of EU subsidy abuse.
Editorial writers in a number of the Czech Republic’s leading dailies have addressed the poor showing of some traditional parties in the general elections. A commentator in Monday’s edition of Právo said Czech voters had radically turned their backs on groupings that held a monopoly on power or opposition for years. Meanwhile, Lidové noviny and Mladá fronta Dnes said the Social Democrats and TOP 09’s efforts to paint Andrej Babiš of election winners ANO as a bogeyman had proved a losing bet. The Social Democrats took only 7.3 percent in the elections and TOP 09 scored 5.3 percent.
Právo also said that the aggressive new parties ANO, Freedom and Direct Democracy and the Pirates had filled the hole left by the collapse of the traditional parties. However, the daily’s commentator said, this did not mean that the trio would now rule and shove their more traditional rivals completely out of the picture.
The Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Dominik Duka congratulated all of the parties which won mandates in the Czech election at the weekend but said that parties and movements that won had not been those that had worked to build freedom in the country over the last 25 years.
In his view, parties which won were not traditionally left or right on the political spectrum and made clear the view that their gain was, for example, a political defeat for the European Union. He warned that anger, hatred and squabbling was continuing after the election as it had before, calling that “a truly bad sign”.
The leader of the anti-migrant and anti-Islam Freedom and Direct Democracy Party, Tomio Okamura, has told the Czech daily Právo that he was not ruling out cooperation with election-winners ANO and that his party wanted to be a part of the ruling coalition.
In the same interview he made clear the fact the future prime minister faced criminal charges was a problem with the potential to heavily damage the future government as well as planned legislation which he said took up to a year to prepare.
The head of TOP 09 Miroslav Kalousek has told the daily Právo that the ANO party, which won the election in the Czech Republic at the weekend, has four potential partners in the lower house which he said ANO could use to push through its policies, in his view the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, the Communists, Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats.
Kalousek said he had received a message from ANO leader Babiš about a potential meeting but said it would be absurd for him to travel to Průhonice, outside Prague, where Babiš, the likely next prime minister, is meeting with leaders of all the parties in the lower house.
Kalousek and Babiš have been long-time political foes who have done little to hide their personal animosity.
TOP 09 was part of the government after elections in 2010, but has seen a continuing loss of voters since. At the weekend, TOP 09 finished with only seven seats, barely over the five percent threshold.
Mr Kalousek is to announce his future plans as leader on Tuesday. TOP 09 is holding its party convention next month.
Betting agencies in the Czech Republic took a record number of bets on the legislative election at the weekend worth more than 100 million crowns. The number eclipsed that of bets on the presidential election in 2013, the Czech News Agency learned.
Ahead of the election, ANO were heavily slated to win while the number of parties to make it into the lower house – nine – was higher than expected. Bettors also tried their luck on the Czech Pirate party and Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy party, who made it into the lower house for the first time.
Tuesday will be mostly cloudy with daytime highs of around 11 degrees Celsius.