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The ANO movement is deciding what the role of its chairman Andrej Babiš will be before the upcoming election year, especially due to the elections to the European Parliament. These will take place in June 2024.
According to Seznam Zpráv information, Babiš will go out again with his camper and will campaign in the squares. The unsolved question remains how intensively Babiš will be involved in the campaign.
“Excursions will be in all forms – by train, cars and camper vans. Chairman Babiš is also going to the regions, and now in the coming weeks we will talk about how we will spread it over time,” the first vice-chairman of the movement, Karel Havlíček, told Seznam Zpravám.
Several sources from the ANO movement confirmed off the record that, in connection with this, the question of whether Babiš should remain an MP or withdraw from the House of Representatives is being discussed again. There was also the possibility that the ex-prime minister could run in the European elections, but this idea was dropped.
There was already speculation that Babiš would leave the parliamentary benches, after losing the presidential election. In the end, however, he remained a member of parliament, and from September of this year he once again began to thunder regularly from the lectern in the House of Commons, where he also gives speeches lasting several hours.
Now, however, according to ANO sources, the question is back on the table, although Andrej Babiš has been officially claiming for a long time that he is not considering leaving the mandate. But he indicated it himself in one of his September speeches in the House of Representatives. Behind the counter, he claimed that we were experiencing a “new totality” and that he “doesn’t have to be” in the House of Representatives.
“I’ll go to those squares. We will go underground,” thundered Babiš. When the editors now asked him to explain what exactly he meant by that, he simply stated: “I appear less in public and in the media.”
Even the president of the club, Alena Schillerová, admitted that words about a possible departure sometimes “fly by” even at meetings of ANO leaders. “I’m glad we have him here. And we need him here,” she told Seznam Zprávám.
Where does Babiš pay off?
The ANO movement faces a dilemma – as Alena Schillerová says, Babiš in the House of Representatives is important to them. For one thing, he has the right to speak and is an expressive speaker. On the one hand, surveys have shown that Babiš’s often aggressive outbursts in the House of Representatives have a good effect on their electorate.
“Voters want us to be a forceful, consistent opposition. I even think that our core wants us to be even more vigorous and even tougher,” says Karel Havlíček.
The ANO movement does not fear that heated speeches will discourage more lukewarm voters. If anything, they are considering the possibility that an angry Babiš can, on the contrary, kill the voters of the government parties.
On the other hand, Babiš’s biggest asset is his strength in the contact campaign. “Babiš is a key part of the campaign, the biggest asset the movement has. Our analysis shows that even Alena Schillerová has a big impact, but even then she cannot match Babis. So the movement must solve the question of whether Babiš will devote himself 100 percent to the campaigns, because we have three elections ahead of us,” says sociologist Jan Herzmann.
In addition to the European elections, voters will choose the new composition of regional councils and a third of the Senate next year.
However, there are fears in the movement that if Babiš throws himself full force into the campaign and at the same time remains an MP, it will arouse a wave of criticism that he does not go to work. The hard core of the electorate, which Babiš convinced a long time ago that the House of Representatives is a “sandwich shop where you don’t bother”, probably wouldn’t mind. However, according to Herzmann, this may discourage more lukewarm supporters.
“As the Czech proverb says, a steady drop will break even a stone. So the repeated criticism that he is a member of parliament and does not fulfill his duties may raise doubts among some voters,” adds Herzmann. According to him, a kind of hybrid would be the most advantageous for ANO – when Babiš will devote himself only partially to the campaign and sometimes also take up a job in the House of Representatives.
As a result, all sources agree on one thing – the decision is up to Babiš, and he has not yet given the final word to anyone, not even the highest-ranking members of the party.
Whatever Babiš decides, it does not mean that he will give up his leadership for the parliamentary elections in 2025. Even his shadow prime minister, Havlíček, cannot now answer who would be prime minister if the movement wins the parliamentary elections.
“If we win decisively, then of course I am one of the candidates for prime minister. And then, of course, the presidency has to decide on that,” he told Seznam Zprávám.
At the same time, he reminded that he will definitely be the shadow prime minister only until the ANO parliament. It is planned for the beginning of next year.