Billionaire, populist becomes Czech prime minister- foreign press
Berlin/Vienna/Warsaw, Dec 7 (CTK) – Yesterday’s appointment of Andrej Babis (ANO) as new Czech prime minister has been mentioned by German, Austrian, Polish and other foreign media, many of them describing Babis as a populist and a controversial billionaire and writing about his plan to form a minority government.
Austria’s Der Standard and Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza also point out links between the appointment of Babis and the upcoming Czech direct presidential election.
The server of the German Wirtschaftswoche weekly cites the dpa agency’s article saying that “populist Babis” has become prime minister and that Babis as the prime minister does not want to give in in the dispute between Prague and the EU about migrant redistribution quotas.
Babis is a “controversial multi-billionaire” and the founder of “ANO, a populist protest party,” dpa writes, adding that it is uncertain whether his cabinet will win a vote of confidence in parliament.
Most standard parties refuse to support the new cabinet because the police suspect Babis of a subsidy fraud, it writes.
The Deutsche Welle station says Babis was appointed prime minister despite a suspicion that he had “wheedled” money out of the EU for himself.
“In parliament, Andrej Babis might be depending on extremist parties’ support,” Deutsche Welle’s server writes.
Austria’s left-liberal daily Der Standard writes that during Babis’s oath taking ceremony today, Zeman criticised the journalists who are critical of Babis and mention his still lacking majority support in parliament.
“Zeman does not care about it. He has good relations with Babis and in January, he will seek re-election as head of the state. To achieve the goal, he will need the votes of ANO fans. The appointment of Babis as PM might help him score some points,” Der Standard writes.
It describes the troubles Babis faces in seeking a majority support for his minority government. For example, the “xenophobic and anti-EU” SPD movement of “Czech Japanese” Tomio Okamura can imagine cooperation with Babis only if it were part of his cabinet. This, however, is unwanted by Babis, the pragmatist who calls for an EU reform but stands far away from anti-EU ideologists such as Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Der Standard writes.
It points to a controversy arising over the Czech Communists party’s (KSCM) nomination of its MP Zdenek Ondracek, former police officer who participated in suppressing an anti-communist demonstration in 1989, as head of the lower house commission supervising the General Inspection of Security Corps (GIBS).
The Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza states that Babis will be Czech PM and asks who the new Czech president will be.
“Andrej Babis enjoys President Milos Zeman’s support. The ANO chairman has promised Zeman not to field ANO’s own candidate for president and to support Zeman in his effort at re-election, which, however, is not that sure,” the daily writes on its web.
It says alliance with Babis is priceless for Zeman, mainly in a situation where the chances of his rival presidential candidate, former Science Academy chairman Jiri Drahos, are rising.
Gazeta Wyborcza writes that Babis’s attempt to negotiate on a coalition has been a fiasco because none of the mainstream parties wanted to cooperate with a billionaire suspected of a subsidy fraud.
That is why Babis has formed a minority government supported by the far-right SPD party of Tomio Okamura, the daily writes.
“The pro-Kremlin Zeman knows that the fight for the presidential seat will be tough. That is why he does not hesitate to seek support even from politicians like Okamura,” Gazeta Wyborcza writes, adding that Zeman is to visit and address an upcoming congress of Okamura’s SPD movement where foreign anti-EU groupings’ leaders Marine Le Pen and Geert Vilders will also turn up.
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