Czech leader to ask election winner Babis to form government

October 24, 2017
Czech billionaire and leader of ANO 2011 political movement Andrej Babis adjusts his tie after meeting with Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman at the Lany Castle in Lany, Czech Republic, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. The centrist ANO movement led by populist billionaire Andrej Babis decisively won the Czech Republic's parliamentary election Saturday in a vote that shifted the country to the right and paved the way for the euroskeptic to lead the country. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech president on Tuesday was expected set to ask populist billionaire Andrej Babis, whose ANO movement won parliamentary elections, to try to form a new government.

The office of President Milos Zeman announced the move. The president usually appoints the chairman of the strongest party to head the government as prime minister.

Babis’ movement won 78 seats in the lower house of Parliament on Saturday. He needs coalition partners to govern with a parliamentary majority.

Eight other parties and groups won seats, including the anti-migrant and anti-EU party Freedom and Direct Democracy, which finished fourth.

Babis has indicated he would like to rule with the conservative Civic Democratic Party that finished second with 25 seats. But the Civic Democrats and other parties consider Babis unsuitable to lead the government because he faces charges of fraud linked to EU subsidies.

Acting at the request of police, lawmakers in the lower house agreed to lift the immunity from prosecution for Babis and his deputy in ANO, Jaroslav Faltynek, in September. That decision allowed police to investigate Babis’ involvement in the $2 million fraud and charge him.

Following the election, it is necessary for the new lawmakers to again lift the immunity from prosecution to allow police to complete the investigation.

The new house has yet to convene for the first time, and no date for a vote has been set.

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