PRAGUE — Euroskeptic billionaire Andrej Babiš won a decisive victory in the Czech Republic’s parliamentary election, with his populist ANO party taking almost 30 percent of the vote.
Babiš looks virtually certain to be the next Czech prime minister, despite having been formally charged with defrauding the EU of a €2 million subsidy. He has denied any wrongdoing and claimed the case against him is politically motivated.
With all ballots counted on Saturday night, ANO was far ahead of all other parties with 29.64 percent of the vote. If that were not enough bad news for Brussels, two more Euroskeptic parties — the Civic Democrats and the fiercely anti-immigration SPD of Tokyo-born Tomio Okamura — also did well, with 11.32 and 10.64 percent of the vote respectively.
The big losers in the election for the 200-seat lower house of parliament, which took place on Friday and Saturday, were the ruling Social Democrats, who finished sixth with a mere 7.27 percent. In the last parliamentary election, in 2013, the party received 20.5 percent of the vote.
The pro-EU TOP 09, the only party to make adoption of the euro a plank in its campaign platform, barely cleared the 5 percent required to be represented in the Chamber of Deputies.
The next government seems likely to be a reshuffle of the current administration, with the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats as ANO’s junior partners. Currently, the Social Democrats head a government composed of the same three parties under Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.