ANO edge TOP 09, Social Democrats, in European elections
In an interview before the results of the European election were announced, businessman turned politician Andrej Babiš expressed doubts his ANO movement would win, suggesting a knock on the chin would be a wake-up call ahead of communal elections this autumn. But the party leader spoke too soon: ANO maintained just enough momentum, edging both the opposition party TOP 09 and fellow coalition partners the Social Democrats.
But a win is a win. ANO, as polls had suggested, secured victory and with it four mandates. Opposition party TOP 09, which had trended well, finished a very close second, winning the same number of seats, while the coalition leaders the Social Democrats came third, also securing four. The remaining nine seats were divided up by the Communists, who got three, the Christian Democrats, also three, the Civic Democrats, two, and the Free Citizens’ Party, one.
There are several ways to slice and dice the final results. A defeat for the Eurosceptic parties is one: ahead of the election, the once mighty Civic Democrats had the most to lose and it was obvious the party would not be able to retain most of its seats.
The leader of TOP 09, Karel Schwarzenberg, sent a dig ANO’s way suggesting they might have won but still weren’t a “real” political party.
But ANO can easily afford to let such comments slide, facing more pressing matters which include choosing who will be the country’s next European commissioner. ANO is pushing for its candidate, Pavel Telička, who served briefly in the post a decade ago. But coalition partners the Social Democrats are pushing for former finance minister Pavel Mertlík to get the post while the Christian Democrats are backing their own candidate.
What has changed is that ANO, as the election winners, can stake a greater claim. ANO leader Andrej Babiš was careful when asked about the way forward but the message was clear:
Meanwhile, the European elections were decisive for others who failed to deliver. One ‘casualty’? The youthful head of the Greens, Ondřej Liška, who took personal responsibility for his party’s poor showing – below the five percent threshold – by announcing on Monday that he was stepping down.