President Pavel Criticises Both Spolu and Babis Over Tone of Election Campaign

The Spolu coalition’s campaign presenting the opposition ANO as a supporter of Russian interests is equally unfair and dangerous as the statements of ANO leader Andrej Babis provoking anti-Ukrainian sentiment, Czech President Petr Pavel wrote on social media yesterday.

Neither of these will improve the political culture in the country or increase public trust in politicians, he said.

Spolu, consisting of the Civic Democrats (ODS), Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and TOP 09, has taken advantage of ANO’s failure to register a web domain name with the slogan of its European Parliament election campaign, and turned it against ANO, Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) said yesterday.

This includes a picture on the website with ANO’s slogan “Czechia, everything for you” edited to “Russia, everything for you”. Babis and the party’s lead candidate Klara Dostalova have the Russian flag on their faces instead of the Czech flag. The picture is accompanied by the text “Vote for Spolu to Europe instead, you’ll face no threats from Russia then.”

The President said he considers Babis’s public statements inciting anti-Ukrainian sentiment to be inappropriate, unfair and dangerous. However, the Spolu campaign casting ANO as a supporter of Russian interests is just as unfair and dangerous, he said.

ANO leader and former prime minister Andrej Babis said PM Fiala seemed to be a ridiculous or sad figure.

Fiala dismissed the suggestion that Spolu had launched a negative campaign. The placement of the graphic design was pointing to the dangers of ANO policy, he said.

“The coalition makes no secret of the fact that it is the author of this way of campaigning,” Fiala said. “As far as the information I have from our election team, ANO has made the unbelievable mistake of not registering the domain with the key slogan of their campaign. I think my colleagues are warning them of it quite well.”

The European elections will take place in the Czech Republic on 7 and 8 June. Czech citizens will choose 21 MEPs.

ANO will be defending the six seats it won five years ago, while ODS is defending four seats, and the Pirates three. The former coalition of the Mayors and Independents (STAN) and TOP 09 is also defending three.

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