Andrej Babiš, a billionaire tycoon who has been tainted by scandal has won the parliamentary confidence vote to lead the new Czech government. Babiš victory has ushered in a return to power in Czech parliament by the Communist party.
Babiš sealed his victory when 15 MPs of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) gave the votes needed to allow its union with his Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO) party and the Social Democrats (CSSD) to seize power in parliament. For the past nine months, the Czech Republic was governed by administrations with limited tenure.
However, it was no easy victory by any means. Members of the Opposition expressed their outrage over Babiš’ qualification and fitness to govern because of the number of criminal charges levied against him.
Top 09, a conservative opposition party, dramatized their displeasure by staging a symbolic walkout. Milan Chovanec, former Interior Minister and a leading member of the Social Democrats party refused to give his support.
The Communist party forged the deal with ANO by agreeing to “tolerate” the incoming administration. The move went against Communist ideology and set aside Babiš’ status as a wealthy billionaire in exchange for assurances the party would be given juicy positions in government particularly in the area of public utilities.
The return of the Communist party in parliament comes almost 30 years after the 1989 Velvet Revolution which ended their nearly 41-year rule over former Czechoslovakia.
More protests and demonstrations are expected to take place over the next few days. Many Czechs who lived during the Communist party’s regime still remember their brutal campaign against dissenters.
Jiří Pehe, director of New York University’s Prague campus and a renowned political analyst believe wounds from the past have not yet healed:
“For many people who support right- of- centre parties, this is a big moral and psychological problem, because they see it in symbolic terms and feel it’s not right.”
Babiš faces criminal charges over allegations he illegally obtained almost €2m of funds from the European Union for his agrochemical business. Babiš has denied the allegations and calls it politically- motivated. He has also refuted allegations he was a former secret police agent.