We’re coming to the end of Europe’s “super election year”. The Netherlands, France, Germany, Bulgaria, Austria, and Malta have all held votes (and we even got an unexpected bonus election from Britain). Ahead of the elections, there were predictions of a “populist wave” washing across the continent. Ultimately, things played out differently. However, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been breakthroughs.
Enter 63-year-old billionaire Andrej Babiš. The Czech Republic’s second-richest man is now Prime Minister-designate after his anti-establishment party, ANO 2011, won the most seats in the election on 20 and 21 October. He has already been styled the “Czech Donald Trump” because of his wealth and his promise of “Czech first”-style policies.
Critics argue that Babiš suffers from clear conflict of interests because of his business interests (not to mention an ongoing fraud investigation). His supporters, however, hope that he will shake up a political system they view as inept and rife with corruption.
It’s unclear what a Babiš government might mean for Europe. He has professed in interviews to be pro-European and says he wants the Czech Republic to play an active role in the EU. However, his policies on EU migration quotas and European integration are seen to be broadly aligned with more eurosceptic countries such as Hungary and Poland.
Despite coming in first place in the elections, Babiš will be unable to govern alone. ANO won almost 30% of the votes, but not a majority. It remains to be seen whether more mainstream political parties will go into coalition with him, or whether he will be able to cobble together an agreement with smaller parties.
Is Andrej Babiš really “Europe’s Donald Trump”? What will his election victory mean for Europe? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!