More than three years ago, the Czech social democracy won the elections ahead of the populist billionaire Andrej Babiš's "ANO" (="YES", an acronym for "Alliance of the Pissed-off Citizens") – it was almost a tie. A calm, uncharismatic leader of the social democrats, Mr Sobotka, a life-long politician, became the prime minister because the ANO's result was just slightly worse than that of the social democrats. But it has been generally understood that the "de facto prime minister" was the somewhat charismatic, aggressive billionaire Andrej Babiš, the finance minister.
This wasn't the first time when the finance minister was considered the "de facto prime minister". In the government of center-right plasma physicist Mr Petr Nečas, the finance minister Mr Miroslav Kalousek was the by far louder and more controversial and combative guy. Kalousek is not only Babiš's predecessor as the finance minister – but also the "personification of all evil" that Babiš constantly talks about in his sermons addressed to his brain-dead quasi-religious sect. Babiš and his sheep seem as obsessed with Kalousek as some believers are obsessed with the Devil.
In late 2013, the Christian Democratic Union – the Czechoslovak People's Party (yes, they keep this name) – became a junior coalition partner. They liked to join most governments after the 1989 Velvet Revolution.
OK, when Sobotka joined forces with Babiš, the social democracy wanted to build on what they have in common: the hatred towards the small businesses, populism, licking of the aßes of the losers who are always easier to be manipulated than the people who depend on themselves. But there were lots of differences and time bombs. Babiš sometimes acts as if he were a rightwinger – all owners of "very big corporations" unavoidably do so at some times. More seriously, Babiš is a completely "apolitical" politician who has no values, no ideology, no spine. That's different from the social democrats who try to extend the tradition of a party that has existed for more than a century.
Also, Babiš was a snitch of the communist secret police (I have read so many materials about him from that era that I will carefully avoid all sentences that could suggest any kind of uncertainty – there is no uncertainty here; BTW the Slovak constitutional court is re-evaluting the previous acquitting verdict concerning Babiš's dirty past during communism) – in some counting, a member of the morally šittiest 1% of the population during communism. People like him were crippling human lives throughout communism and we could have executed all of them – they surely deserved it and they still deserve it. Instead, we were excessively generous and allowed filth like Babiš to keep on living. Only a law, the "lustration law", was codified that the members of the communist secret police are not allowed in the government and similar top places. Otherwise they could become billionaires or anything they wanted.
However, even this law became a piece of toilet paper a few years ago. And it just happened that one of these šitty people, Slovak comrade Babiš, evolved into the most influential politician of Czechia. He's expected to score over 30% in the Fall 2017 elections while the social democracy, center-right ODS, and communists are predicted to be slightly above 10% each.
To build his $3 billion wealth in a relatively short time, Babiš has obviously and demonstrably done many things that were deeply immoral. He has screwed his colleagues in the Petrimex communist company (and other companies selling excrements that made Mr Babiš wealthy), he has been sent hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies (this process became more straightforward in recent years when he was sending the subsidies directly to himself), he has sold himself billions of tiny one-crown bonds of his own company (the algorithm for rounding was explained at some point to imply that tiny one-crown bonds don't have to be taxed at all), he has bought lots of things for the money he shouldn't have had, and so on.
Also, he used the EU subsidies to build his Stork's Nest. The EU funds were meant to be for small businesses and his giga-huge corporation got the funds because he pretended that the company belonged to his daughter's small company. One the funds were approved, he restored himself as the great boss and inventor of Stork's Nest.
I may have missed the most damning acts like that. I am sure that his financial behavior crosses all red lines and the people who genuinely believe that he has the credentials to fight against the immoral financial behavior are absolute idiots. Unfortunately, there are millions of such people in Czechia. By the total volume, Babiš is undoubtedly one of the biggest de facto thieves who have ever lived on our territory. On the other hand, I can't tell you what judges and attorneys would be capable of concluding. Of course his behavior could have been legal according to the technical discussions of lawyers.
At any rate, lots of these scandals were discussed in the media. Details are accessible to everybody. However, his approval rate didn't drop. In fact, it looks like it was going up. Social democratic prime minister Sobotka decided that he had to solve the problem that damages the good name of the government. He asked Babiš to resign. Needless to say, Babiš knows that his resignation would make Sobotka's life (and the police investigators' lives) easier and it's something that Babiš didn't want to do. So Babiš replied that he's a genius who has no reason to resign.
Sobotka announced a press conference for 1:30 pm today. It seemed clear to everybody that he has maneuvered himself into a lose-lose situation. It seemed that Sobotka was stupid to keep on playing this game of criticisms – even though it was empirically shown not to work.
Babiš's supporters won't be discouraged by anything of the sort.
People including your humble correspondent were working with two possibilities. He either says that he was satisfied with Babiš's explanation how he earned all the billions of dollars and how he dealt with all the clearly non-kosher financial transactions. Babiš's newest "explanation" was based on gems such as "it's a lie that I wasn't very rich before 2000; in fact, I was already picking tennis balls since the age of 9, earning $0.25 an hour". If Sobotka said that Babiš was clean enough, it would make the previous accusations and tension that Sobotka has caused unjustified and he would look like a loser.
On the other hand, if Sobotka fired Babiš, his finance minister – which could have allowed the government to continue to the Fall 2017 elections because the center-right opposition already announced some kind of tolerance for such a modified government – he would turn Babiš into a martyr. Babiš is already whining all the time. He's a spoiled brat from a fucked-up communist apparatchik family who constantly complains that the whole world is against him and everyone else is a thief which is the reason why they're against him.
Needless to say, his being fired as the finance minister would place all this whining on steroids.
Which of these two bad steps Sobotka would choose, all of us were asking? Well, we missed another possibility. Sobotka gave a speech that looked decent to me – given the bad conditions – but he announced his own resignation to be completed later in this week. The prime minister's resignation automatically removes the whole cabinet, of course. This step arguably robs Babiš of his martyrdom because "everyone in the government" has the equally good rights to own the martyrdom. On the other hand, the step is serious enough and consistent with his previous threats.
I am not sure what will happen. Czechia's president – in this case, Mr Miloš Zeman – becomes increasingly powerful and his creative inventions may affect a lot. The parties may agree that the coalition should continue without Babiš. There may be new snap elections although the regular ones are already so close that it would be silly to change their date (the date actually became "official" today, independently of the resignation). A technocratic government or some temporary different coalition could complete the term.
If Sobotka manages to strip Babiš of his chair of the finance minister in this indirect way, it will be a big victory for him, I think. Also, I believe that if Babiš will be away from the government, he could also become less visible in the media which would be great news. Babiš's constant self-celebrations and whining on TVs surely contribute to the fact that millions of people plan to vote for him – I mean the millions of brain-dead voters who find his crying and self-evaluation of his work to be sufficient for him to gain the divine status.
On the other hand, the outcome may be exactly the opposite. Zeman may very well choose Babiš as the prime minister – turning the very purpose of this resignation by 180 degrees. On the other hand, even that could be helpful because Babiš's trademark whining that the "powerful are hurting him" could become visibly idiotic if he were the prime minister, even according to his voters.
We will see what will happen. It seems almost guaranteed that Babiš will win the following elections – in Fall 2017 or earlier – but there could be surprises or clever moves that may change this prediction. Babiš's relative invisibility could be one of these great changes. Another one could be his arrest. His financial tricks are being investigated both by police and our IRS (which "belonged" to him so far), not to mention some EU investigators. When he is removed from the government, it could be much easier to arrest him. I haven't done research whether he could win the elections and become the prime minister while sitting in the Bory prison or next to the serial killer and the sex idol of millions of Czech women Jiří Kájínek.