Europe

Czech election: Billionaire Andrej Babis poised to win

Andrej Babis Image copyright AFP
Image caption Andrej Babis's ANO (Yes) party is predicted to win the biggest share of the vote

Czechs are voting in a two-day general election in which the favourite is a populist billionaire who has campaigned on an anti-establishment platform.

Andrej Babis, 63, is estimated to be worth $4 billion (£3bn) making him the country's second richest man.

His centrist ANO (Yes) party has a wide lead in the polls but is not expected to secure a majority.

Its current coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats (CSSD), is polling in second place.

Polls opened at 14:00 local time (12:00 GMT) and close at 22:00 (20:00 GMT). They will open again on Saturday morning and close in the afternoon.

Andrej Babis's party, which has campaigned on an anti-establishment, anti-EU and anti-corruption basis, is predicted to win the biggest share of the vote.

Far-right and far-left parties are also predicted to make gains.

This will put Mr Babis, who has faced numerous scandals including a fraud indictment and accusations he was a communist-era police agent, in pole position to become prime minister as part of a coalition.

If his party secures a majority, it is not known who Mr Babis will seek to form a government with.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Outgoing leader Bohuslav Sobotka (R) has had a turbulent relationship with Andrej Babis (L)

Currently, Social Democrat Bohuslav Sobotka heads a coalition formed after a 2013 snap election. This was triggered by the fall of the centre-right government of Petr Necas over a spying, sex and bribery scandal earlier in the year.

In May, Mr Sobotka submitted his government's resignation because of a disagreement with Andrej Babis, who was serving as finance minister at the time.

He was unhappy about alleged unexplained business dealings involving Mr Babis.

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