WORLD Mogul PM tipped to win as Czech vote begins


Mogul PM tipped to win as Czech vote begins


21:17, October 08, 2021

A populist billionaire at odds with the European Union who featured in the Pandora Papers was tipped to win Czech elections which started on Friday, promising a tight result.

Czech Prime Minister and leader of the ANO movement, Andrej Babis attends the last debate at the public radio before the poll stations open for the parliamentary election on October 8, 2021 in Prague. (Photo: AFP)

Prime Minister Andrej Babis is seeking a second straight victory for his populist ANO party despite his lukewarm handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and his clash with the law.

The 67-year-old food, chemicals and media mogul is facing police charges over alleged EU subsidy fraud and the bloc's dismay over his conflict of interest as a businessman and a politician.

Last weekend, the Pandora Papers investigation showed he had used money from his offshore firms to finance the purchase of property in southern France in 2009, including a chateau.

He slammed the allegations as a smear campaign, and opinion polls still peg him as the election favourite, with support reaching up to 30 percent.

"The key question is whether the populist policy will prevail over traditional and more responsible politicians," said Tomas Lebeda, an analyst at Palacky University in the eastern city of Olomouc.

Polling stations opened at 1200 GMT and will close at 2000 GMT on Friday before voting resumes at 0600 GMT on Saturday and ends at 1200 GMT.

There will be no exit polls and the results are expected later on Saturday.

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