Czech President admitted to ICU as electorate rejects Populist Party in polls
The President of Czech Republic, Milos Zeman has been admitted to the Central Military hospital on Sunday after he held talks with Prime Minister Andrej Babis, whose party did woefully in the last Saturday election.
Voters at the Saturday polls backed two opposition coalitions who now have enough seats in parliament to form a government.
The Czech Republic’s political future remains in limbo while Zeman is treated, however. One of the president’s main constitutional roles is to select the next prime minister to form a government.
A spokesman for the hospital where the President was admitted told reporters that his condition had stabilized.
“The reason for [Zeman’s] hospitalization is complications from the illnesses for which he has been receiving treatments,” Doctor Miroslav Zavoral said in a brief statement to the press on Sunday, adding he could not yet talk about the prognosis.
Zeman has been suffering from a range of health problems over recent years. On advice of his doctor, he voted in the country’s general election Friday from the presidential retreat, instead of at a school in Prague as was previously scheduled.
Zeman was taken to hospital shortly after speaking with Babiš — a day after the election in which the PM’s ruling party ANO appeared to have lost its grip on power, and the two opposition groups who won a majority said they planned to form a government together.
Zeman has not said whom he would ask to form the next government. But he previously indicated he would ask the leader of the largest single party, rather than a coalition.
Complicating matters further, Babiš’s ruling ANO party won the most seats among individual parties but has no clear path to a majority in the lower house.
After winning a combined 108 seats in the 200-seat lower house on Saturday, talks between the two groups who campaigned against Babiš ended with the leaders of the five parties in the combined coalitions signing a memorandum to work together to form the next government.
A new government would distance the Czech Republic from populist parties in Hungary and Poland, which have increasingly come under fire for rolling back European Union democratic values.
The tight election also comes just days after a Pandora Papers investigation into controversial financial dealings by Babiš and other world leaders. The report claimed the Czech prime minister secretly moved $22 million through offshore companies to purchase an estate on the French Riviera in 2009, before he entered politics.
Responding on Twitter, Babiš said he had “never done anything unlawful.”
A businessman who is worth about $3.4 billion, according to Bloomberg, Babiš has railed against the elite since he became prime minister in 2017, vowing to crack down on tax avoidance.
But his premiership has been dogged by long-standing allegations of financial impropriety.