New Trump-like European leader


Originally formed in 1991 by three states – Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia (now with successor states Czech Republic and Slovakia), the Visegrad Group aimed to fully provide restitution of independence, democracy and freedom to the region of Central Europe. With around 64 million inhabitants in total, V4 states would form the 4th most populated entity within the pan-European space. One of the initiators of the group was Czech Republic which is struggling between East and West, with several major macroeconomic problems. Following the 2017 Government crisis, legislative elections were held in Czech Republic on 20/21 October.

Several parties fought for the victory: the Social Democrats led by the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lubomir Zaoralek, the ANO of the Czech billionaire Andrey Babish and the Communist Party of Vojtech Philip. In the 2013 elections, the Social Democratic Party won with a 20.45% (50 out of 200) result. The victory has gone to Andrey Babis who has been called “the Czech Donald Trump”, and there are superficial similarities. A tycoon, he used his campaign to rail against corrupt elites and political correctness. Two weeks before the vote, it looked as if his campaign would go off track after he was formally charged with fraud over a $2.4 million European Union subsidy to one of his companies. Babis said that the charges were politically motivated, and voters largely ignored them. The Czech elections also brought two other anti-establishment parties into parliament. Tomio Okamura, who is of Czech-Japanese origin, campaigned against migrants and Muslim influences and won 11 percent of the vote. The Pirate party, a group that backs government transparency and Internet freedom, won over 10 percent. All of this ferment in the nation of 10.6 million is remarkable because the Czech Republic is outwardly better off than its neighbors: It has the lowest unemployment rate in the EU, growing wages, and relatively little immigration.

Commentators have been pointing to the fact that in the post-communist period, the Czech Republic has failed to create genuine political parties. Those political organisations that have been set up are more like businesses, selling their political influence and power to entrepreneurs. The majority of Czech voters therefore regard politicians from all the mainstream parties as basically corrupt. Many think it hypocritical that Babiš is the only one actually being prosecuted for his dealings. Many people also seem to admire Babiš as a strongman who, when he gets to power, will finally “put an end to this post-communist chaos”, and maybe even “free” the Czech Republic from the “diktat” of Brussels.

None of commentators however have pointed out the lack of economic moment within the program of the new born leader. Even though, according to the data of the World Bank, Czech Republic`s economy is quite stable, its macroeconomic indicators do not show long-term stability. It is worthy to mention also the need for new elected authorities to devote their efforts to establishing the more friendly economy and more export oriented financial system.

The rise of populist parties in the Czech Republic will probably make more obvious the East–West division in the EU. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic will be governed by parties that oppose the EU’s decision to require each member nation to accept a certain number of migrants. Miklos Zeman, the Czech president, said last week that the EU’s requirement on migrant quotas is illegitimate: “If worse comes to worse, then it would be better to forego EU subsidies than open the door to migrants.”

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