- Title: Czechs vote in final day of election as PM Babis seeks to cling to power
- Date: 9th October 2021
- Summary: PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (OCTOBER 9, 2021) (REUTERS) PEOPLE AT POLLING STATION MAN REGISTERING TO VOTE MEMBER OF ELECTION COMMITTEE REGISTERING VOTER VARIOUS OF PEOPLE CASTING BALLOTS WOMAN WALKING TOWARDS POLLING BOOTH WOMAN CASTING BALLOT WOMAN WALKING INTO VOTING ROOM WOMAN STANDING MAN PICKING UP ENVELOPE, WALKING INTO POLLING BOOTH VOTER MICHALA WU REGISTERING TO VOTE MAN CASTING BALLOT WU CASTING BALLOT (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) CZECH VOTER, MICHALA WU, SAYING: "We voted for one of the democratic coalitions, both my husband and I chose the Pirates/Mayors and we chose them mainly because they are not the ANO party (party of PM Andrej Babis)." WU'S DAUGHTER LILY (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) CZECH VOTER, MICHALA WU, SAYING: "I think that anyone, except the Communists, ANO Party and SPD (Freedom and Direct Democracy Party), can move (the country) forwards and I hope they'd do better." (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) CZECH VOTER, PETR HOLEC, SAYING: "It certainly shouldn't be the Pirates and these coalitions because they are horrible." EXTERIOR OF POLLING STATION AT LOCAL SCHOOL SIGN ON DOOR READING (Czech): "DISTRICT POLLING STATION 5044" WOMAN WITH CHILD WALKING TOWARDS POLLING STATION VOTERS INSIDE POLLING STATION VARIOUS OF PEOPLE CASTING BALLOTS CLERK JAN KOLAR CASTING BALLOT (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) CZECH VOTER, JAN KOLAR, SAYING: "I voted for the Together coalition. (KOLAR LAUGHING, REPORTER ASKING WHY HE CHOSE THE TOGETHER COALITION) I voted for them so that the growing (Czech state) debt would stop." (SOUNDBITE) (Czech) CZECH VOTER, JONAS STRNAD, SAYING: "I voted for the Together coalition, they are a bit of a better fit for me than the Pirates. I was deciding between these two parties and I liked the Together coalition more." EXTERIOR OF POLLING STATION
- Embargoed: 23rd October 2021 09:50
- Keywords: Czech Republic PM Andrej Babis Prague ballot elections general election in Czech Republic people casting votes voting
- Location: PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
- City: PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
- Country: Czech Republic
- Topics: Europe,Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA001EYFSFGN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Czechs wrap up voting in a tight election on Saturday (October 9) in which Prime Minister Andrej Babis battled criticism that he mismanaged the pandemic, stoked fast-rising debt with handouts and tend to his own business interests in office.
The billionaire Babis, who denies all the accusations, and his populist ANO party took a slight poll lead into the central European country's election, which started on Friday (October 8) and closes on Saturday at 2 p.m. CET (1200 GMT).
Results will begin arriving in the first few hours after voting booths close.
Babis vowed in his campaign to continue raising public sector wages and pensions, hoping to shore up the basis of his popular support after years of rising prosperity.
But he faced a strong challenge from the centre-right Together coalition and the progressive Pirates/Mayors bloc that refused to work with the billionaire leader over what they said were his unacceptable conflicts of interest related to the business empire he created before entering politics.
A voter from Prague, Michala Wu, said she chose the progressive Pirates/Mayors bloc in order not to vote for the ANO party. Clerk Jan Kolar said he picked the Together coalition because of their fiscal policies.
But for pensioner Petr Holec the opposition coalitions were not an option. "They are horrible," he told Reuters after he cast his vote on Saturday morning.
While pre-election polls indicated the ANO was unlikely to secure a majority, Babis' party looked certain to emerge as the biggest party, giving the premier the first shot at forming the next government.
But ANO may struggle to find governing partners, with two parties that backed his outgoing minority government at risk of losing their lower house seats.
That could force ANO to seek an alliance with the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy Party.
(Production: Jiri Skacel, Karolina Bohacova)
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