Czech election: Billionaire Babis secures big early lead


Czech billionaire Andrej Babis, chairman of the ANO movement, talks to the media after voting at a polling stationImage copyright
AFP

Image caption

Andrej Babis, 63, is the second-richest man in the Czech Republic

A populist billionaire candidate has taken the lead in partial results from the Czech Republic’s general election.

Andrej Babis’s centrist movement ANO had more than 30% of votes with results in from three-quarters of polling stations.

That puts the party far ahead of its closest rival, the far-right Freedom and Free Democracy party (SPD), on 11.2%.

Mr Babis’s ANO (Yes) party campaigned on an anti-establishment and Eurosceptic platform.

Although it is not expected to secure an outright majority, it is projected to win about 30% of the vote – more than twice that of any of its opponents.

Far-right and far-left parties are also predicted to make gains.

Its current coalition partner, the ruling centre-left Social Democrats (CSSD), has seen its projected share tumble since counting began.

The projected results make Mr Babis the main contender to become prime minister after coalition negotiations.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

Outgoing leader Bohuslav Sobotka (R) has had a turbulent relationship with Andrej Babis (L)

The 63 year old is estimated to be worth $4bn (£3bn), making him the country’s second richest man – but he has also faced numerous scandals including a fraud indictment and accusations he was a communist-era police agent.

Social Democrat Bohuslav Sobotka headed a coalition formed with Mr Babis’s party after a 2013 snap election.

But in May, Mr Sobotka submitted his government’s resignation because of a disagreement with Andrej Babis, who was serving as finance minister at the time.

He was unhappy about alleged unexplained business dealings involving Mr Babis.



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