Former Czech PM Andrej Babiš announces bid for presidency

The former prime minister ranks second in recent opinion polls recording voters' preferences.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 31.10.2022 10:29:00 (updated on 31.10.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Andrej Babiš has officially joined the race for the Prague Castle, according to Seznam Zprávy. The chairman of the ANO movement announced yesterday evening during an appearance on TV Nova that he planned to run for president.

"I have to say that from the moment I entered politics, I had and still have the only goal to make life better for people in our country, and when I see how the government of the Czech Republic does not work and how little it helps people, how inactive it is, as it slowly helps, I finally decided to go for it," Babiš said yesterday.

The statement was reminiscent of other statements that Babiš made during his time in office as prime minister of Czechia from 2017 to 2021. As Bloomberg notes, he "rose to power by blasting traditional politicians as corrupt and incompetent," while his anti-migrant stance brought him close to other populist leaders, such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

A surprise for ANO?

The announcement came after a meeting between Babiš and President Miloš Zeman earlier in the day, the first between the two in a year.

The ANO movement had initially said that it would announce its candidate for the presidential election today. As such, the timing of Babiš' announcement surprised Moravian-Silesian Governor and  ANO vice-chairman Ivo Vondrák, who told Seznam Zprávy "the claims that everything is agreed (regarding Babiš' candidacy) are rather surprising to me."

Babiš will seek a vote of confidence from the ANO leadership today.

Pavel and Nerudová improve, Babiš falls in polls

An Ipsos poll from the first part of October showed that General Petr Pavel lead the polls with 27.9 percent of votes, and compared with July, improved by 4.1 percentage points, ČTK reports. Babiš received 23.3 percent of the vote, a tanking that was lower by 8.4 percentage points compared to July. Economist Danuše Nerudová ranked third with 16.9 percent of votes, an improvement of 6.1 percentage points.

FEATURED EMPLOYERS

Political scientist Jan Kubáček told iDNES that Babiš's support was decreasing, but, following the announcement, it is likely to be strengthened as his core voters mobilize.

Kubáček said that the support Babiš receives will ultimately depend on his "performance in TV debates and where our economy heads," adding "It also depends on how prepared his opponents will be."

Presidential contenders react to Babiš's bid

Pavel tweeted that he was "not at all surprised" to hear that Babiš was to run in the elections. "Personally, I look forward to him livening up the debates," Pavel wrote, adding that he saw Babiš's candidacy "as a threat to the Czech Republic, due to the populism he personifies."

Nerudová tweeted "even after a long search, Andrej Babiš couldn't find anyone better than himself, even though the forecasts don't give him much of a chance for the second round" of the elections. "While the opposing candidates will deal with their past in the campaign, I am ready to focus on the future of all of us," she added.

Nerudová's tweet could be a possible reference to the Stork's Nest (Čapí hnízdo) subsidy fraud trial. According to prosecutors, in 2007 Babiš masterminded Farma Čapí hnízdo's withdrawal from Agrofert and the sale of the shares to his children and partner. He did it so that the company outwardly met the criteria for gaining a CZK 50-million subsidy designated for small and medium-sized firms, the prosecutor says.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more