Czech billionaire and “media mogul” Andrej Babis was indicted for fraud on Oct. 9. His party won the Czech national election yesterday, winning three times as many seats as the next largest party, and all 76 electoral districts.
As Kurt Vonnegut would say, “and so it goes . . . .”
Babis’s party is called ANO, which means “yes” in Czech. (I keep waiting for “no” to win an election. It’s bound to happen sooner or later – law of averages.) ANO is an acronym in Czech for “Action of Dissatisfied Citizens,” which sounds more like “no” than “yes,” but the Czechs evidently don’t see it that way. ANO supposedly is an anti-corruption, pro-change party, but Babis, its founder and leader conned the European Union out of $2 million in subsidies by posing as a small businessman.
Babis’s company, Agrofert, is big in agriculture and fertilizer, as the name suggests. When the Communist system broke down, Agrofert somehow ended up with very valuable government assets. But a few years ago, Babis decided that Agrofert needed to get into media, and soon enough, Agrofert owned 23 Czech newspapers and magazines (including a free daily newspaper, because the Czechs apparently aren’t so imprudent as to pay for propaganda, but they will snap it up when it’s free), three Czech TV stations (free), and the Czech radio station with the largest audience (free). Which media – surprise, surprise – turned out to be an excellent platform to launch Babis into national politics.
By the way, there is a rumor that Babis used to work for the KGB.
So Babis was in the news, wall-to-wall, head-to-toe, morning-till-night during the campaign. The other candidates could have won the national beer-drinking contest (beer is a BIG thing in the Czech Republic), and they still wouldn’t have made the news.
- ANO came in first, with 30% of the vote and 39% of the seats, because who can resist voting for an anti-corruption party whose leader was just indicted for fraud?
- ODS, the conservative party, won 11% of the vote.
- The “Pirate Party” also won 11% of the vote. Its leader, Ivan Bartos, braids his hair like a pirate would. The platform of the Pirate Party is that all intellectual property should be free, since the greatest challenge facing society today is the need to pay $8 a month to Hulu.
- The racist party, the SPD, also won 11% of the vote. It is run by the founder of Beer Magazine. (I told you that beer is big in the Czech Republic.) He encourages Czechs to adopt pigs as pets and walk them near mosques, and he has urged a boycott against kebobs. Oh, and the leader of this anti-immigrant party happens to have been born in Tokyo, and he is half-Japanese.
- The Communist Party came in fifth, with 8% of the vote. That is, the Communist Party that reduced the Czech Republic to servitude for half a century, and invited in the Red Army to squelch the progressive “Prague Spring” of 1968. That Communist Party.
This is what passes for democracy these days.
So if you wake up at 3 am one morning, wondering how we could have elected such a heinous fool to be President of the United States, realize this:
We’re not the only ones to screw up this badly. We’re just the only ones to screw up this badly with nuclear weapons.