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Afp

Embattled Czech mogul PM expected to survive confidence vote

By AFP
media Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis faces police charges and the biggest protests seen in three dacades AFP/File

Billionaire Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis appeared set to survive a confidence vote Wednesday, analysts said, even as he faces charges of graft, EU conflict of interest concerns and mass rallies demanding his resignation.

Babis's ANO movement leads a minority coalition with the Social Democrats (CSSD), relying on informal backing from the Communists for a parliamentary majority of 108 seats in the 200-member parliament.

Both the CSSD and the Communists have said they will support Babis in the no-confidence motion called by the opposition.

"It would be a surprise if they (the government) lost. The chances are tiny," Tomas Lebeda, an analyst at Palacky University in the eastern Czech city of Olomouc, told AFP, echoing other commentators.

"The opposition needs 101 votes and it doesn't have them," he added.

The 64-year-old Slovak born Babis, who made his fortune as founder and owner of the sprawling Agrofert food, chemicals and media holding, has come under fire over allegedly murky business dealings.

He faces police charges in connection with a two-million-euro ($2.25 million) EU subsidy scam and an EU audit into his dual role as politician and entrepreneur.

Babis allegedly served as a Communist secret police agent in the 1980s when former Czechoslovakia was behind the Iron Curtain.

Babis staunchly denies any wrongdoing, insisting the EU audit contained "errors" and has characterised other allegations as a smear campaign.

He has been the target of massive rallies since the appointment in April of justice minister Marie Benesova, seen as an ally who could sweep the charges against Babis under the rug.

More than 250,000 people rallied in Prague on Sunday demanding Babis resign in the biggest protest in the Czech Republic since the fall of Communism in 1989.

Despite the uproar, ANO -- described by its critics as a one-man party -- tops opinion polls with 30-percent support and won May's European Parliament elections.

 
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