According to political scientists, the retreat of Babiš may be an attempt to increase the coalition potential of ANO

According to political scientists, the retreat of Babiš may be an attempt to increase the coalition potential of ANO

According to political scientists, the abandonment of Babi may be an attempt to win a coalition the potential of ANO

Illustration photo – Andrej Babiš and Alena Schillerová at a press conference after the meeting of the presidency of the ANO movement in Prague, February 8, 2023.

Prague – According to political scientists contacted by ČTK, the reason for the relegation of ANO chairman Andrej Babiš may be an effort to increase the movement's coalition potential. However, the announced plan of ANO to win over the voters of the other opposition movement Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) may prove to be counterproductive. According to political scientists, the same effort in the presidential election meant that Babiš was unacceptable to centrist voters.

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Babiš announced on Wednesday that he will remain the chairman of ANO and a deputy after his defeat in the second round of the presidential election. The main faces of the movement will be the leader of ANO deputies Alena Schillerová and Karel Havlíček, who will lead the shadow government. “The decision that ANO will actually lead a kind of triumvirate is not really new, this model has been in use for quite some time,” Josef Mlejnek from the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University told ČTK. However, Havlíček and Schillerová have not yet succeeded in making leaders who could fully replace Babiš. This was also reflected in the fact that none of them were ANO candidates for the Castle, he added.

Also, according to Petr Just from the Metropolitan University of Prague, this is a confirmation of the current situation. “Some kind of formal pushing of Ms. Schillerová and Mr. Havlíček is nothing new, both of them, by virtue of their current positions, have already been the main media faces alongside Babiš,” he said. According to Just, it is difficult to estimate Babiš's goals, regarding his candidacy in the next parliamentary elections, his position may be unclear for a long time, as before the presidential election.

Lubomír Kopeček from the Faculty of Social Studies of Masaryk University believes that ANO could increase its coalition potential for negotiations on the future government by backing Babiš. “The main problem for his coalition potential is chairman Andrej Babiš. He will probably no longer be a candidate for prime minister and will not aspire to another government position, which may increase the acceptability of his party as a potential government partner,” he said.

Maybe it is also a way to get more voters, for whom Babiš is now too controversial, added Kopeček. “However, it is difficult to say whether it will really have an effect. It depends a lot on things that ANO cannot influence too much, such as the development of the economy and the standard of living,” he added. According to him, by strengthening the position of Havlíček and Schillerová, the heavy burden that Babiš had to face by leading ANO in the public and political space will be partially distributed.

Babiš also announced a plan to take over SPD and ČSSD voters. He criticized their presidents for their attitude to the presidential election, which he said showed that they did not defend the interests of their voters. According to Mlejenko, the effort to win SPD voters can be counterproductive. “Andrej Babiš demonstrated the problematic nature of such a plan in full nakedness in the presidential campaign. He certainly appealed to SPD voters, but at a high price – for centrist voters he was therefore absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

According to Mlejenko, ANO continues its efforts to maximize profits regardless of potential coalition partners. “Especially after the elections, the YES movement can take revenge, because then it can again remain stuck as an opposition stake in the fence. As a stake, maybe a bit thicker than last time, but in any case without influence on the executive,” said Mlejnek.

According to Just, the attacks on SPD and ČSSD follow the fact that ANO interprets the second round of the presidential elections as its success. “In other words, they now have the potential of less than 2.5 million voters. But of course that is not the case, because it is impossible to work with it in such a simple and mechanical way,” he said. He expects that the chairman of the SPD, Tomio Okamura, will certainly not like the effort to attract voters. “We can expect a worsening of relations between ANO and the SPD,” he said.

In the case of the ČSSD, according to Just, the situation is a bit more difficult in that the social democrats are not heard as much after dropping out of the House of Representatives. “Andrej Babiš therefore has the advantage that, thanks to the intensive media coverage of his person, he will have more space to appeal to ČSSD voters. At the SPD, Okamura will second him in the media, I would give it less of a chance there,” he said.