Monday, 21 August 2017

Babiš's release request not to influence ANO voters, analysts say

ČTK |
11 August 2017

Prague, Aug 10 (CTK) - Czech political analysts told CTK today that they think that the police request for the release of government ANO movement head Andrej Babis and ANO deputy group head Jaroslav Faltynek will not influence very much their voters in the October 20-21 general election.

The police want Babis and Faltynek to be released for prosecution in connection with a subsidy for the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) farm in central Bohemia.

Miroslav Mares, from Masaryk University in Brno, said the matter my dissuade some voters from participating in the election.

Lukas Vales, from West Bohemia University in Plzen, told Czech Television that he does not think it is a politically motivated step as Babis claims.

Mares told CTK that the police request is rather unexpected, but added that he does not think that it would radically change the voter support for ANO [which is a favourite of the election].

He said ANO will make use of the situation to play the role of a martyr and that it will criticise the police for being under the influence of its government partner, Social Democrats (CSSD).

Mares said the thing has unpleasant consequences for ANO in that it will lose a couple of percent of voters, but this will not be fatal.

He said he expects ANO to adapt its political propaganda to the situation.

Vales said the thing will undoubtedly be a great political theme, but it is a question of how much it will influence voters because the Capi hnizdo farm case has been solved several times already.

"It shows that it has not changed ANO preferences," Vales said.

Babis reacted to the police request saying it is an effort by the political system to liquidate him and its timing shows an attempt to influence the election.

Vales said this is rather a chance coincidence of events. If there were a political motivation, the request would be made immediately before the elections which would not allow ANO to defend itself any more.

Until 2007, the Farma Capi hnizdo company belonged to Babis's Agrofert Holding. Afterwards, its stake was transferred to bearer shares for a small firm to reach a 50-million-crown EU subsidy, which a firm of the huge Agrofert Holding could never get. It observed this condition for a few years, but later it again returned to Babis's concern.

Billionaire businessman Babis transferred the Agrofert concern, including some media outlets, to trust funds in February to comply with an amended conflict of interest law.

Babis said at a special lower house session initiated by the opposition that his adult children and a brother of his common-law wife (whom he married recently) owned the bearer shares of the farm in 2008-2010 when the firm gained the subsidy.

Faltynek has held managerial posts in Agrofert since 2001.

($1=22.301 crowns)

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