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Establishment Parties ‘Czech Out’ of Power


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Another European country embraces populism.

John Fund

Oct 22 2017


The Czech Republic has joined a growing list of countries — from Germany to Austria – where the traditional Left is losing to conservative populism. This weekend’s election gave anti–European Union billionaire Andrej Babis’s ANO (“Yes” in Czech) party 30 percent of the vote, a 19-point lead over the next largest party, the conservative Civic Democrats. Babis will almost certainly become prime minister in coalition with smaller parties.

Babis has been called “the Czech Donald Trump,” and there are superficial similarities. A tycoon, he used his campaign to rail against corrupt elites and political correctness. Two weeks before the vote, it looked as if his campaign would go off track after he was formally charged with fraud over a $2.4 million European Union subsidy to one of his companies. Babis said that the charges were politically motivated, and voters largely ignored them.

The Czech elections also brought two other anti-establishment parties into parliament. Tomio Okamura, who is of Czech-Japanese origin, campaigned against migrants and Muslim influences and won 11 percent of the vote. The Pirate party, a group that backs government transparency and Internet freedom, won over 10 percent. All of this ferment in the nation of 10.6 million is remarkable because the Czech Republic is outwardly better off than its neighbors: It has the lowest unemployment rate in the EU, growing wages, and relatively little immigration.

The biggest losers in the election were the Communist party, which fell to just 7 percent of the vote, and the ruling Social Democrats, who finished in sixth place with only 7 percent. In the last election, in 2013, it had won 21 percent.



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