Czechia: Babiš’s ANO party leads polls driven by Eurosceptic campaign

Polls predict that former prime minister Andrej Babiš’s ANO party will win the June European elections in the Czech Republic.

ANO’s eurosceptic agenda, which attacks the EU migration deal and the Green Deal, has dominated the public discourse in the country, Euractiv reported.

The ANO party (liberal Renew group) has been leading opinion surveys, and it is currently the largest opposition party in Czechia. ANO could win up to seven seats in the European Parliament with 25% of votes, polls show.

ODS (ECR), TOP 09 (EPP), and KDU-SL (EPP) lead the SPOLU coalition, which comes in second in polls. SPOLU could receive 20% of the vote, which translates to five seats in the European Parliament.

This coalition is regarded as the principal opponent to ANO, emphasizing a center-right program that appeals to a sizable segment of the voters.

Polls anticipate two or three seats each for liberal parties, which include mayors, independents (non-affiliated), and pirates (Greens/EFA).

The far-right alliance of Freedom and Direct Democracy (ID) and Trikolora (non-affiliated), known for its strong anti-immigrant stance, could also win approximately three seats.

Stačilo! (The Left), a far-left coalition, currently polls at 7.1% and is expected to gain one seat in the European Parliament.

According to Europe Elects‘ election estimates, ANO will receive 27% of the vote, followed by SPOLU (21%).

The opposition ANO party drives its campaign focused on three major issues.

The first priority, it claims, is to defend Czech sovereignty, which includes keeping the power to veto foreign and security policy decisions.

Other Czech political parties, particularly SPOLU (ECR+EPP) and Freedom and Direct Democracy (ID), hold the position of weakening the Green Deal, with the latter calling for its complete abolition in its election program.

The recent approval of the migration and asylum deal has elevated combating illegal migration to the top of the EU’s agenda. The ANO party claims that the migration deal will result in “uncontrolled migration, a surge in crime, and societal disintegration.”

In contrast, SPOLU does not oppose the deal but advocates for extra measures to combat illegal immigration, such as externalizing migration procedures.

The debates over the Green Deal and migration have created substantial friction between the government and opposition parties, with the opposition accusing the government of supporting EU-level green and migration legislation that jeopardizes Czech security and stability.

ANO is now a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE) and the Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament, although its leadership’s rhetoric is more similar to Hungary’s Fidesz and other hard-right populist groupings.

Furthermore, some liberal lawmakers who ran for ANO in 2014 or 2019 have stopped collaborating with the party. Although ANO’s current lead candidate, Klára Dostálová, insists that the party remains liberal, ALDE and Renew are concerned about ANO’s membership.

Nonetheless, Renew is unlikely to want to lose the significant ANO delegation in the European Parliament. So, if Renew wants to remain the third-strongest group in Parliament, it must compete for every mandate.

According to analysts, Renew will attempt to build a pro-EU majority after the elections alongside the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the EU Socialists (S&D).

ANO’s leader, the controversial populist billionaire Babiš ran in the presidential election in the Czech Republic in January 2024 but lost to Petr Pavel in the second round.

Earlier, former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš lost his appeal in Slovakia in a case involving allegations of collaboration with the communist-era secret police in what was then Czechoslovakia. According to the Slovak National Memory Institute, in 1982, the secret police recruited Babiš and assigned him the code name “Buresh.” The Czech former prime minister categorically denied this and tried to challenge it in court.

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