The Czech Republic (also known as Czechia) has an election scheduled for the 20th
. And the leader of the frontrunner party is being called the “Czech Trump”:
From the Washington Post:
The man poised to lead the Czech Republic following elections this week is a polarizing billionaire who vows to drain the swamp of this capital city’s politics, run his country like a business and keep out Muslim immigrants. He casts himself as the straight-talking voice of the common man and derives support from the country’s forgotten communities. He makes a sport of attacking the European Union and says NATO’s mission is outdated. He pledges to put his own nation’s interests above all else but is dogged by investigations into alleged shady dealings that threaten to cripple his political career. Andrej Babis is so similar to the U.S. president in profile and outlook that he feels compelled to offer at least one key distinction. “I was never bankrupt,” the 63-year-old says mischievously in an interview at his featureless office park on the outskirts of this gloriously gargoyle-and-spire-pierced city.In center of Europe, politics takes a Trumpian turn with rise of anti-immigrant billionaireBy Griff Witte, Washington Post, October 17, 2017
Babis has been dubbed the “Czech Trump” and the “Czech Berlusconi” but interestingly, Babis was actually born in Slovakia back when Czechoslovakia still existed, and stayed with the Czech entity when the Czechs and Slovaks had their parting of the ways.
Babis is apparently the second richest citizen of the Czech Republic and ran Agrofert
, a conglomerate of over 230 companies dealing with “agriculture, food, chemical, construction, logistics, forestry, energy and mass media industries in the European Union and China.”
The WaPo article quotes Babis critic, “Jiri Pehe, the director of New York University’s Prague campus” who says of the candidate that “He’s no democrat” but is that just because he doesn’t agree with him?
Pehe’s big complaint is that “The danger here is that the Czech Republic could slide to the European periphery, along with Hungary and Poland.” Horrors!
Actually, it seems to me that these Central European countries are doing a better job of protecting their own people than governments farther to the west.
Who has more worries about Islamic crime and terrorism: France, Germany and Britain on the one hand, or Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic on the other hand?
To ask the question is to answer it.
According to the Washington Post,
[Babis]was a political novice when, in 2012, he founded his own party, Action of Dissatisfied Citizens, which is known by its Czech acronym ANO, meaning “yes.” The party, running on a pro-business and anti-political-establishment platform, stunned the nation a year later when it took second place in parliamentary elections. Babis became finance minister in a coalition government, and served until May, when he was forced out amid a swirl of accusations over alleged tax evasion and other improprieties — all of which he denies.
But getting kicked out of the government didn’t hurt Babis politically.
…the ouster didn’t weaken him. If anything, it may have bolstered his carefully cultivated reputation as a political outsider whom the insiders will do anything to ruin. “People are saying that I’m a danger to democracy in this country, which of course is ridiculous,” he said, his gray suit neatly pressed, his gray hair and beard trimmed tight. “I’m a danger to this corrupt system.”
That sounds familiar.
It’s a message that [Babis] repeats relentlessly on the trail, where he signs copies of his slickly produced campaign book and gives out his cellphone number to people who say they could use his help battling the turgid Czech bureaucracy. “He’s a normal guy,” said Zdena Krskova, a 69-year-old who was shopping for dinner one day at an open-air market in a working-class neighborhood of north Prague. “Plus, he has enough money, so he doesn’t need to steal from the people.”
What about the demographics of the candidate’s support?
Babis’s support is concentrated outside Prague, in smaller cities and towns that haven’t shared the same bump in prosperity as the country’s tourist-thronged capital. It also comes from older voters who are looking to the billionaire to cut through the messy logistics of democratic politics and use a firm hand to restore a simpler, bygone time, said Daniel Prokop, head of political polling for the research firm Median.
The Gatestone Institute
found some interesting Babis quotes:
THE EURONo euro. I don't want the euro. We don't want the euro here. Everybody knows it's bankrupt. It's about our sovereignty. I want the Czech koruna, and an independent central bank. I don't want another issue that Brussels would be meddling with.MULTICULTURALISMI have stopped believing in successful integration and multiculturalism.ANGELA MERKEL AND THE “REFUGEES”It was she who let migrants enter Germany and the whole of Europe in uncontrolled waves, without papers, therefore without knowing who they really are. Germany is paying a high price for this policy. The solution is peace in Syria and the return of migrants to their homes. There is no place for them in Europe.MORE ON MERKELIn return for billions of euros, she should make sure that Greece and Turkey completely stop the arrival of refugees in Europe. Otherwise, it will be her fault what happens to the European population. Unfortunately, Mrs. Merkel refuses to see how serious the situation is in Germany and in other EU nations. Her attitude is really tragic.CZECH SOVEREIGNTY VS. THE EUROPEAN UNIONWe have to fight for what our ancestors built here. If there will be more Muslims than Belgians in Brussels, that's their problem. I don't want that here. They won't be telling us who should live here.