Will Pandora Papers affect Czech election results?

Despite the release of the Pandora Papers, Babiš is still set to win, and here is why

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Tiscali.cz, Czech News Agency
In this Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021 file photo, Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis attends a TV debate prior the upcoming general election in Prague, Czech Republic. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek/File)

Ahead of the Czech parliamentary elections, the world media is focusing on whether the revelations in the international journalism Pandora Papers project will affect the outcome of the elections or post-election negotiations.

Bloomberg and Reuters focus their attention on the growing indebtedness of the Czech state and the steps that the next government will have to take regardless of who leads it. Euronews pointed out that although Czechs are relatively concerned about climate change, according to surveys, this topic did not play a significant role in the campaign.

The revelation of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s purchase of French real estate through a relatively complicated network of offshore companies, which the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported on, will probably not jeopardize Babiš’s victory, according to the French Le Figaro newspaper. The British Financial Times, which believes that Pandora Papers will not affect voters of Babiš, has the same opinion. However, the overall impact of the case on the elections is still unclear, noted The Washington Post.

According to the Financial Times, the affair mainly limits the negotiation leverage of Babiš after the elections, especially concerning possible cooperation with parties in the Spolu (Together) coalition. The current prime minister will probably have no choice but to cooperate in some way with the Tomio Okamura‘s Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement, which the AP agency describes as “the most anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim party in the Czech Republic.”

Leader of the right-wing Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party, Tomio Okamura, addresses supporters at an election rally in Prague, Czech Republic, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

The Financial Times pointed to Okamura — who is half Czech, half Japanese — and his 2015 call for people to walk pigs in front of mosques as part of the fight against radical Islam. Cooperation with such a party could lead Babiš to diplomatic isolation on the European scene, the British newspaper noted.

The AFP agency focused on the fact that Babiš may not be able to rely on the support of the Communist Party (KSČM) again after the elections, which for the first time since the 1989 Fall of Communism, might not reach the Chamber of Deputies. The KSČM is failing to attract young voters, while its far-left reputation has suffered from cooperation with the often attacked billionaire Babiš, wrote AFP.

The Financial Times warned that the Czech elections might bring significant success to the European Pirates movement. The Czech Pirates are the first of this kind on the continent to have a chance to get into government.

Co-leader of center-left coalition of the liberal Pirate Party and STAN, Vit Rakusan, talks to his supporters at an election rally in Kladno, Czech Republic, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

According to the AP agency, Babiš focused his election campaign mainly on migration and protection of the Czech Republic from the European Union and its green policy. The Euronews site noted that even though, according to surveys, most Czechs consider climate change to be a very important topic, this has not been reflected much in this year’s election campaign in the Czech Republic. According to Euronews, the main topics were migration, the state of the economy, and its recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Andrej Babiš is following a simple strategy to win the election: Give the voters money,” wrote Bloomberg, according to which Babiš disagrees with the long-standing Czech tradition of fiscal conservatism.

Although Czech voters have been previously keen on promises about reducing state budget deficits, Babiš is on the verge of winning, despite raising pensions and salaries for state employees and pushing for tax cuts, which many economists warn against, Bloomberg wrote.

Reuters noted that whoever heads the Czech government after the elections will face an unenviable challenge in the form of very fast-growing government debt.

“Wary of frightening away voters, all political parties have ruled out major tax hikes and shown no plans for other painful measures, but the next government faces a likely rude awakening and tough choices to find new revenue and cut spending,” Reuters wrote about the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic.

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