Jakub Hudec, Public Affairs Consultant and healthcare/IT expert at Grayling Czech Republic kicks off our commentary series on candidates of major political parties for the upcoming election.
As previously announced in our September issue of Political Digest, we would like to give you the rundown on a few of the candidates running in the general election later this month, starting with the “entity” that has put political marketing back on the map and has repeatedly headed the pre-election polls – the ANO Movement.
Most of you are sure to know the power duo behind the three letters A-N-O (which originally stands for Action of Dissatisfied Citizens) – their leader Mr Andrej Babiš (the former Minister for Finance and First Deputy Prime Minister) and his loyal colleague Mr Jaroslav Faltýnek, chairman of the ANO caucus in the Chamber of Deputies. Besides these two, a host of individuals have recently emerged as very important figures in the movement and we would like to mention just a few of them.
One of ANO’s most prominent people has been the environment minister, Mr Richard Brabec, who found himself in the media spotlight recently right after Mr Babiš’s removal from the Czech government when he inherited his spot as the First Deputy Prime Minister. Coincidentally, he was confirmed as the movement’s leader in the Ústí Region three months later.
Another public figure has also taken centre stage – Mr Ivan Pilný (the former boss of Microsoft’s Czech branch), having served as a vital Economic Committee chairman, became finance minister in May 2017. Sadly, we should be singling Mr Pilný out as one of the movement’s fallen heroes, as back in June he decided to quit politics rather than be the leader for the Vysočina Region, as originally intended. While it is true that Mr Pilný was frequently a vociferous opponent of Mr Babiš, the movement will be losing a senior expert very active in eGovernment policies and as Economic Committee chairman.
Yet another outcome of the governmental shakedown in May was the rise of Mr Martin Kolovratník to the position of Economic Committee chairman in the Chamber of Deputies. An active MP mainly engaging in transport issues, he will definitely be leaving his mark in the upcoming election period as he is also the movement’s leader in the Pardubice Region.
So far we have only named key male figures. There are also several women who will wield influence in the upcoming parliamentary term if pre-election polling projections for the ANO Movement hold true. Apart from Ms Jaroslava Pokorná Jermanová and regional development minister Ms Karla Šlechtová, current deputy regional development minister Ms Klára Dostálová is undoubtedly one of ANO’s key females as she leads the list of candidates for the Hradec Králové Region. Another noteworthy woman is the recently elected governor of Karlovy Vary Region, Mrs Jana Vildumetzová, who also happens to be one of the three women in the movement’s presidium.
Despite the publicly presented front of a unified ANO Movement, there have been some stumbling blocks in the approval of candidate lists across the regions. For example, one of the key healthcare policy figures at ANO and the chairman of the Health Care Committee, Mr Rostislav Vyzula, was initially entered ninth on the candidate list, which would most likely leave him unelected. Nevertheless, the final candidate lists was revised to reflect the preferences of the movement’s leadership and the MPs ended up on fourth place.
Sticking to healthcare policy, we should at least mention other two candidates, who have been discussed frequently by the expert media over the past few months – Mr Adam Vojtěch and Ms Věra Adámková. Mr Vojtěch is a young adviser to Mr Babiš, who has been deeply engaged in almost every discussion on expert issues in the healthcare sector over the past few years and is the third on the list of ANO candidates in the South Bohemian Region. The latter is the head of preventive cardiology at IKEM (Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine), who has been nominated as the movement’s third election candidate in the nation’s capital – right behind the two ANO Ministers Mr Stropnický and Mr Pelikán.
All in all, the ANO Movement appears to have a lot of individuals potentially attractive to the electorate, despite certain question-marks hanging over several candidates. However, it would be wrong to dwell on superficialities and, instead, we should keep in mind that both Mr Babiš and Mr Faltýnek are known to surround themselves with capable managers from Agrofert, their former company. So, looking at the first five candidates in several regions, we find a few names which are familiar from articles about their managerial positons in companies owned by Agrofert.
Another issue that ANO’s representatives would have to resolve soon after the election is those who hold multiple posts. Even though ANO members publicly condemn the accumulation of posts in the movement’s manifesto, a plethora of the headline candidates are also top public servants in their regions or even regional governors. In any case, all of the above mentioned individuals will most likely wield considerable influence over public policy in the Czech Republic in the coming years. It is up to the voters to decide how great this influence will be.