Babis to be named PM but may struggle to find partners

PRAGUE: Czech President Milos Zeman said on Sunday he would name Andrej Babis prime minister, but the tycoon leader of the anti-establishment ANO party may struggle to find coalition partners despite his emphatic election win.
ANO won 29.6 per cent of the vote at the weekend’s polls, nearly three times as much as its closest rival, but many parties expressed reluctance or rejected outright any coalition with it while Babis fights off fraud charges.
Zeman said the charges were not an obstacle for Babis — the second richest Czech who has been compared to other tycoons-turned-political leaders Donald Trump and Silvio Berlusconi — to become prime minister.
“My aim is that when I appoint the prime minister, and that will be Andrej Babis, that there is certainty or at least high probability that this prime minister will be successful in a parliamentary vote of confidence,” Zeman said in a live interview on news website www.blesk.cz.
ANO will control 78 seats in the 200-seat lower house so still needs partners from the other eight factions to form a majority, but Babis’s stance as an anti-establishment force has made it difficult to forge alliances.
Opponents see Babis, worth an estimated $4 billion, as a danger to democracy because of his commanding leadership style and business and media power that they fear could pose conflicts of interest.
Police allege Babis hid ownership of one of his firms a decade ago to receive a 2 million euro EU subsidy that was meant for small businesses. He denies wrongdoing. — Reuters