Czech President Milosz Zeman – a pro-Russian socialist with a dash of euro-skepticism, much like his predecessor Vaclav Klaus – was supposed to entrust Babis with the mission of forming a new government. Babis, however – paradoxically from Slovakia while also enlisted into Czechoslovakian communist special service registers as a “secret collaborator”- was just enough of a realist to refuse this practically doomed endeavor.
Just prior to the elections, I spoke with Babis’ opponents in Czechia in Prague and Pardubice. They claimed that, behind the scenes in Prague, there was talk of a potential “Grand Coalition” with the participation of the SPOLU block whose main shareholders are the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and the currently ruling ANO – all without Babis, who was guaranteed to have the position of president at the end of Zeman’s term.
Many believed this scenario to be highly likely and a typical display of Czech pragmatism.
Nevertheless, on election night, just after the announcement of the results, the opposition parties formed themselves into two blocks: SPOLU, whose coalition partners include Law and Justice (PiS) ally ODS (the party belongs to the same faction in the European Parliament as PiS, and both are members of the European Conservatives and Reformists), the Christian Democrats, and the liberal-conservative TOP 09.
The other block was comprised of the Pirate Party and independent local government officials. Together, these blocks unanimously announced that there will be no coalition with Babis’ ANO.
This means that the new Czech PM will be an ODS conservative and not a liberal. This also means that the new PM will most likely be Petr Fiala – not Andrej Babis.
Fiala has been at the helm of Vaclav Klaus’s former party for the past seven years once Petr Neczas, the first Catholic PM in Czechoslovakia and Czechia’s history combined, had resigned from the position (Neczas, a father of four, had an affair with one of his female colleagues).
Fiala managed to double ODS’s support, although merely a year ago PiS’s Czech sister party was not given much of a chance in the elections, with a 12 percent result in polls. This situation is reminiscent of the one the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) faced when it also was not given high chances of victory.
Fiala is well-known for his pro-Polish approach and may establish a “new opening” in relations between Warsaw and Prague. He may also continue the policy of his predecessor, Petr Neczas, who emphasized that Central European countries should not let themselves be manipulated by their neighbors.