Friday, 20 October 2017

Právo: Sobotka may still be future Czech prime minister

ČTK |
22 May 2017

Prague, May 20 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) may not win the October general election, yet their chairman and current PM Bohuslav Sobotka may end up as the prime minister of an anti-Babis coalition, which does not look like a defeat of which some speak, Jiri Pehe writes in daily Pravo Saturday.

He writes that some politicians and commentators say Sobotka has given up the duel with Andrej Babis, chairman of the ANO movement and outgoing finance minister, when he accepted the nomination of Ivan Pilny (ANO) for Babis'S replacement.

They say he also gave in to President Milos Zeman who conditioned his agreement with Babis's dismissal with Sobotka first proposing the name of the successor, Pehe writes.

Sobotka proposed Babis's departure because of a suspected tax evasion and an unacceptable influencing of the media.

At first sight, the result of Sobotka's offensive may really seem as rather deplorable. He wanted Babis to be replaced by someone who is not connected with Agrofert holding, but eventually he accepted Pilny, who is not directly connected with Agrofert, but is a member of ANO, which is a sort of Agrofert's political division, Pehe writes.

Billionaire businessman Babis owned the Agrofert holding until February, when he transferred it to trustee funds to comply with an amended conflict of interest law.

Pehe writes that Sobotka actually attained much more than may seem at first sight. Within two weeks, during which the government crisis continued, he united the CSSD behind himself and pushed Zeman, who still significantly influence a part of the party, to a deep defensive.

Sobotka even could openly say that the CSSD may field its own candidate against Zeman, a former CSSD member, in next year's direct presidential election, Pehe writes.

In addition, Pehe writes, Zeman made so many bad, or even miserable moves that his re-election is most uncertain.

Turning to Babis, Pehe writes that Sobotka has not entirely eliminated him and will not completely eliminate him unless further case surface.

However, it is quite probable that ANO's voter preferences will no longer be exceeding 30 percent after the latest developments, Pehe writes.

This is potentially very important because even if ANO won the election, but only had about 20 percent o the vote, it would hardly form a majority government, Pehe writes.

No mainstream party could enter a coalition with Babis unless it wanted to completely discredit itself, Pehe writes.

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