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The country in uncertainty over the name of its next prime minister

The Czech Republic is plunged into uncertainty on Sunday, the day after the general elections which saw the narrow defeat of outgoing Prime Minister, billionaire and populist Andrej Babis, preceded by Petr Fiala, head of the center-right coalition Together.

Which of the two will be the next prime minister. It is up to Milos Zeman, the current president, aged 77 and ill, to decide. He received Andrej Babis on Sunday morning. But soon after, he had to be hospitalized urgently, leaving the process of appointing the new government on hold.

A gap that has melted for the outgoing Prime Minister

His doctor announced that he had been placed in intensive care, without revealing the diagnosis. According to media reports, the president had been suffering from liver problems for some time. The opposition alliance Ensemble would have a majority of 108 seats in Parliament (which has 200 elected) if it formed a larger coalition with the anti-system Pirate Party and the centrist Mayors and Independents (STAN) movement.

Together, which brings together the Civic Democratic Party (right), TOP 09 (center-right) and the Christian Democratic Union (center), obtained 27.78% of the vote, a breath in front of the populist movement ANO of Andrej Babis (27 , 14%).

At first, the partial results gave the outgoing Prime Minister comfortably in the lead, according to polls. But the gap then melted and the result changed with the counting of the ballots of the big cities.

Petr Fiala asserts his “strong” mandate

The leader of Ensemble, Petr Fiala, positioned himself on Saturday evening to form a government, declaring to have a “strong” mandate. “The president will have to take this into account,” he insisted.

Constitutionally, it is up to the president to designate the new Prime Minister. However, before the election, Milos Zeman had hinted that he would choose Andrej Babis. Sick, the pro-Russian president forced to vote from home met Andrej Babis for informal talks on Sunday morning.

The head of state also assured that he would give a mandate to gather a majority to a party leader, and not to a coalition leader. “I don’t see many reasons why he would do something else,” Tomas Lebeda, an analyst at Palacky University in Olomouc, in the east of the country, told AFP.

“We’ll see what the president says,” Andrej Babis said. “I am a manager, my place is in government,” he added to reporters.

Andrej Babis in the sights of the Pandora Papers

A fourth party will sit in parliament, the far-right and anti-Muslim movement Liberty and Direct Democracy (SPD), led by Tokyo-born businessman Tomio Okamura, who won nearly 10% of the vote and should be able to count on 20 elected officials.

Andrej Babis, 67, made his fortune in the food industry, chemicals and media. He is accused of alleged fraud on European subsidies and the EU accuses him of a conflict of interest between his roles as businessman and politician.

Last weekend, the international Pandora Papers investigation revealed that it had used money from its offshore companies to finance the purchase of properties in the south of France in 2009, including a castle. Andrej Babis has rejected all of these allegations.

According to Otto Eibl, director of the political science department at Masaryk University in Brno, the revelations of the Pandora Papers did not particularly weigh in the vote: “There have been so many cases of corruption that a lot of voters there have become numb, ”he says.

Communists excluded from parliament for the first time since 1945

Andrej Babis currently presides over a minority government with the Social Democrats, tacitly supported by the Communist Party which ruled the former totalitarian Czechoslovakia from 1948 to 1989. With a score of 3.6%, the Communists did not cross the threshold on Saturday. 5% mark and will be excluded from Parliament for the first time since World War II.


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