President hospitalized, government to be appointed: the Czech Republic in full uncertainty

The Czech Republic was plunged into uncertainty Sunday, October 10 after the hospitalization of President Milos Zeman, the day after the general elections which saw the narrow defeat of his ally, billionaire and populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

The country wondered who, from Babis with the 27.14% of his party, or from Petr Fiala, whose center-right coalition Together won 27.78% of the vote, would be chosen by the president to lead the next government .

Aged 77 and ill, Milos Zeman received Andrej Babis on Sunday 10 October in the morning. But soon after, he had to be hospitalized urgently, leaving the process of appointing the new government on hold.

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.

Partial results

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 ANO populist movement 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.

The leader of Ensemble, Petr Fiala, positioned himself on Saturday evening to form a government, declaring to have a “strong” mandate. “Mr. 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”, stressed to theAFP Tomas Lebeda, analyst at Palacky University in Olomouc, in the east of the country.

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

Communists excluded

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: have become numb, ”he says.

Andrej Babis currently chairs 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 5% mark on Saturday and will be excluded from Parliament for the first time since World War II.

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