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Four leaders make statements before Czech legislative elections

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – MICHAL CIZEK – | Czech Mile Andrej Babis on 4 October 2017 in Vsetaty, near Prague

The leader of a popular populist election movement, his main social-democratic opponent and leaders of two anti-system parties will be in the limelight in the Czech legislative elections on Friday and Saturday.

Andrej Babis (ANO)

The question is not whether Andrei Babis with his ANO populist movement will win the elections, but what will be his lead over his competitors and what form the future coalition will take.

Like Donald Trump in the United States or Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, this boss of the conglomerate of Agrofert and the second largest fortune of the Czech Republic was able to transform his aura of successful businessman into that of a politician who, according to his own words, “is not like the others”, “bump” and “do not dabble”.

The 63-year-old Slovak billionaire, finance minister between January 2014 and May 2017, succeeded in seducing the crowds despite charges of fraudulent transactions and also collaboration with the communist secret police before 1989, repeated by his detractors. His recent indictment in a case concerning the financing of the construction of his ultramodern “Stork’s Nest” farm, also examined by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), raises the question of how to fulfill his duties a Prime Minister pursued by Justice.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – stringer – | Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomir Zaoralek in Prague on 15 October 2017

Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democratic Party CSSD)

Will this convinced pro-European be able to stop the free fall of the popularity of the CSSD often attributed to the policy of outgoing Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka? The 61-year-old Foreign Minister raised the gauntlet by accepting the Social Democratic Party’s leading position. Lubomir Zaoralek thus assumes the role of the main rival of Andrej Babis, without excluding a possible coalition with ANO. Will he remember that Andrej Babis had described him as “stupid” during a conversation with a journalist whose sound recording realized without his knowledge fled on the Internet?

Lubomir Zaoralek, a former television dramaturgic advisor and then a teacher in the industrial and mining town of Ostrava, began gradually to climb the political ladder in 1990. He was the president of the lower house in 2002-2006 and has been leading Czech diplomacy since then 2014.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – MICHAL CIZEK – | Ivan Bartos, leader of the Pirate Party on 4 October in Vsetaty, near Prague

Tomio Okamura (Freedom and Direct Democracy, SPD)

A big unknown of these elections: is the result of the SPD party of the 45-year-old businessman Tomio Okamura, who relies on Euro-skeptical and anti-immigration sentiments, will approach the 10% mark as the predict some polls? This son of a Japanese and a Czech who started his professional career as a popcorn seller in Tokyo, his hometown, made a fortune in tourism and catering in the Czech Republic. Elected as a senator in 2012 and then deputy in 2013 under the colors of another extreme right-wing party “Dawn of Direct Democracy” which split up later, he encounters a surprising echo with his xenophobic discourse in a country where he there are almost no immigrants. He called for the banning of Islam and Sharia, insisting on what he said was incompatible with European law. The views of those who have links with the National Front of Marine Le Pen and the European group of nations and freedoms of the European Parliament are not shared by his brother Hayato, a member of the traditional Christian Democratic Party KDU-CSL, who did not hesitate to tell the press that “Tomio is acting in the interest of the Putin government in Moscow which is making all efforts to weaken and dismantle the EU.”

Ⓒ AFP – Paul DEFOSSEUX – | Elections in the Czech Republic

Ivan Bartos (Pirate Party)

Under the leadership of this 37-year-old computer scientist with acute features and dreadlocks, a graduate of Charles University in Prague, the Czech Pirates are hoping for a historic arrival on the benches of parliament. Founded in 2009, this training has become, over time, an interesting alternative not only for the young Internet freedom lovers, but also for pro-European intellectuals who support “truth and love”, an expression that summarizes the political ideas of former President Vaclav Havel, who died in 2011. “We are ready to represent sharp opposition but ready to support any reasonable proposition,” said Ivan Bartos who also made himself known as DJ, singer and accordionist of punk-rap band “Nohama napred”.

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