Czech PM Babis under pressure as parliamentary election begins | News | DW | 08.10.2021

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Czech PM Babis under pressure as parliamentary election begins

All 200 seats in the more important lower house of the Czech Republic's Parliament are up for grabs. Opinion polls suggest that scandal-struck Prime Minister Andrej Babis could be keeping his job.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis takes part in a televised debate ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Populist billionaire and euroskeptic Babis has had a shaky term as prime minister with numerous scandals

Voters in the Czech Republic headed to the polls on Friday for the country's parliamentary elections.

Opinion polls have shown Prime Minister Andrej Babis as the front-runner despite a new scandal over his financial dealings. 

Up for grabs are 200 seats in the lower house of Parliament, the main legislative body.

More than 8 million people are eligible to vote in the two-day election.

Turbulent term for Babis

Populist billionaire and euroskeptic Babis, who heads the ruling ANO (Yes) party, has had a shaky term as prime minister, with numerous scandals. 

The controversies range from police recommendations that he be indicted on charges of fraud involving EU subsidies after a recent bloc concluding that Babis has a conflict of interest over subsidies from the bloc involving his former business empire. 

Most recently his election campaign was marred by a financial scandal following the release of the so-called Pandora Papers.

According to Findings by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Babis put $22 million (about €19 million) into shell companies to buy 16 properties in southern France. 

The incumbent prime minister has denied having done anything unlawful. 

Ahead of Friday, all opinion polls showed ANO ranking the highest with at 25% of the vote.

There is little clarity as to whether Babis and his potential allies will perform well enough to be able to form a new coalition government.

The elections also come at a crucial juncture as the Czech Republic is setting the political course for its six-month stint leading the European Council, which is slated to start in mid-2022.

dvv/msh (AP, dpa)