The Social Democrats appear to have won elections in the Czech Republic as voters angered by years of right-wing graft and austerity veered left. The CSSD are poised to form a minority government. With nearly 100 percent of votes counted, the CSSD scored 20.5 percent, Action for Alienated Citizens (ANO: Czech for “yes”) won 18.7, and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) lagged behind with 15. Likely new premier Bohuslav Sobotka had hinted before polls closed that he could form a minority government with the tacit support of the Communists. “The result may not be what we imagined but it’s the highest score of all parties,” 42-year-old Social Democrat leader Sobotka told reporters in Prague after the election, declaring himself “ready to start talks” on a coalition with all parties in parliament. The election ends seven years of scandal-tainted right-wing rule. Former Finance Minister Sobotka plans to introduce new taxes on banks, utilities and wealth to pay for social programs.
Andrej Babis said his ANO would not back any deal with the Social Democrats. Babis reinvented US President Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” campaign slogan, promising Czechs “Yes, We’ll Be Better Off”. Babis claims his billions make him immune to bribery and has wooed voters with vows of squeaky clean politics. “We won’t support a Cabinet comprising the CSSD,” said the Slovak-born media magnate Babis.
Winning parties often woo smaller factions or independent members of parliament to form coalition governments. Babis, the Czech Republic’s second-wealthiest man, said that, no matter what the CSSD managed to cobble together, his party would prefer to stay in the opposition. “We’ll be terribly glad to prevent the rise of left-wingers backed by Communists,” said the 59-year-old, himself a former Communist.