Czech Republic. According to
Countryaah.com, the Czech Republic was hit by a
government crisis since the election the year before. The
victor Andrej Babiš and his party Ano (Disgruntled Citizens'
Action) got no coalition partners, as one of Babiš companies
was investigated for cheating with EU grants. Babiš and Ano
sought to form a minority government but voted down in
parliament in January. President Miloš Zeman gave Babiš
another chance to form a government and in the meantime lead
an expedition minister.
Zeman himself faced presidential elections. The EU and
immigrant-critical but Putin- and Trump-friendly Zeman were
challenged primarily by Jiří Drahoš, former president of the
Czech Academy of Sciences. Drahoš warned of both Putin and
populism, emphasizing the importance of education, science
and environmental care.
Zeman won the first round of the presidential election
with just over 38% of the vote against just over 26% for
Drahoš. Nine candidates took part in the election and the
two main ones made a decisive round at the end of January.
The two diametrically different candidates had equal support
in public opinion, which was seen as evidence of the
nation's deep divide. However, Zeman was the strongest in
the TV debates and won the second round with just over 51%
of the vote against just under 49% for Drahoš.
When Miloš Zeman was installed in March for his second
term as president, he attacked a mining magnate and media
mogul and his media, who often criticized him. Zeman also
accused state-run Czech TV of bias. The speech was widely
criticized, and in Prague, thousands of people demonstrated
against Zeman and against Babiš and in support of freedom of
Negotiations between Prime Minister Babiš Party Ano and
the Social Democrats to form a coalition broke down in
April. The news was followed by demonstrations in Prague
with protests against Babiš and demands for "a decent
President Zeman wanted the Czech Republic to follow the
example of the United States and move its embassy in Israel
from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The government, however, stuck
to the EU's line on the matter but assigned honorary
consulates and the Czech cultural center to Jerusalem. When
the EU voted in favor of joint condemnation of the US
embassy move, the Czech Republic vetoed it. When Zeman later
visited Israel, he promised to do his best for an embassy
move, but noted that he was unfortunately not a dictator.
The Babiš minority government relied in Parliament on the
support of the Communists and the right-wing party Freedom
and Direct Democracy. In June, however, Babiš managed to
form a coalition with the Social Democrats. It was also in
the minority but was supported by the Communist Party and
approved in Parliament.
The government party Ano ran an immigrant-critical
policy, and in November the government decided to withdraw
from the UN's new global framework for migration, like
several neighboring countries.