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CZECHIA: Criminal proceedings against PM candidate Babis

The Czech police officially received the Chamber of Deputies’ approval to allow PM candidate Andrej Babis (ANO Movement) and his close ally and ANO’s Chief Whip Jaroslav Faltynek to be criminally prosecuted. All political parties except the ANO movement supported the request to strip former Finance Minister Babis and Faltynek off their immunity after a long and emotional parliamentary session on September 6, 2017. Babis and Faltynek are accused of abusing a CZK 50 million (EUR 2 million) EU subsidy for a congress complex called Capi hnizdo (Stork’s Nest).

Both politicians plead innocent claiming that other traditional parties are trying to discredit the ANO Movement. Babis also believes that the police investigation was launched intentionally before the general elections (October 20-21). This allegation was forcefully denied by the Chief of Czech Police and most of the political parties in the Parliament.

Despite the scandal, rhw ANO Movement remains the front-runner of opinion polls, with around 28% of support. Social Democrats stopped the decline in support by gaining 15.5%, followed by the Communists with 13%. Right-wing opposition parties ODS (12%) and TOP09 (7%) will be joined by the Christian Democrats and the nationalistic SPD having slightly over 6%. The Pirates and the Mayors Movement (STAN) fluctuate around required 5% threshold. The general elections could easily end up in a deadlock because many of the parties are not willing to join a government led by a prosecuted PM.