Monday, 17 December 2018

The Economist: Babiš not heading anti-EU uprising

30 October 2017

London/Prague, Oct 27 (CTK) - The idea that the victory of Andrej Babis, ANO chairman, in the Czech general election is a part of a wider anti-EU uprising is wrong, as the "tycoon with a populist bent" does not represent any particular ideology, British weekly The Economist writes in a commentary on Friday.

To associate Babis's election with the strengthening positions of anti-immigrant leaders and policies in Austria, Germany and Hungary is tempting, but these are disparate phenomena, the weekly writes.

"True, the likes of Mr [Hungarian PM Viktor] Orban or Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the de facto leader of Poland, pose a genuine threat to the EU by undermining its legal order. But most of the neighbourhood’s leaders seek to harness the benefits of the club they belong to," the weekly says.

The daily describes Babis as "an angry billionaire who spends his time lambasting the political system as a cabal of corrupt insiders (despite serving as finance minister for the past four years)."

"Mr Babis is a pragmatist who knows his country’s success rests on Europe’s integrated supply chains and open internal borders," the weekly adds.

Rather than being a nationalist or Eurosceptic, Babis is a man of "no ideology whatsoever," which makes his success even harder to understand, considering how well the country has lately been doing economically, the Economist wrote on Friday.

"The Czech system has its own fissures, but Mr Babis poses a different sort of threat. The risk is not of an ideological reshaping of the state, but of weak institutions failing to restrain oligarchic rule. Mr Babis, the second-richest person in the Czech Republic, has vast agricultural and industrial holdings (though he has placed them in a trust) and two newspapers," the Economist notes.

"There is no tidal wave of revolutionary populism washing over the east. That is just as well, for managing the swirling eddies of central Europe’s politics presents enough of a challenge," The Economist concludes.

ANO won the October 20-21 general election in the Czech Republic with 29.6 percent, followed by the Civic Democrats (ODS) with 11.3 percent and the third Pirates with 10.8 percent of the vote. Other six parties also entered the Chamber of Deputies: the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) of Tomio Okamura with 10.6 percent, the Communists (KSCM) with 7.8 percent, the Social Democrats (CSSD) with 7.3 percent, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) with 5.8 percent, TOP 09 with 5.3 percent and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) with 5.2 percent.

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