Anti-corruption party wins Czech PM election, weeks after crumbling

This article is over 6 months old The Czech president was annoyed by months of populist protest against Zdeněk Ramov’s popularity The president of the Czech Republic appointed Zdeněk Ramov, head of the populist…

Anti-corruption party wins Czech PM election, weeks after crumbling

This article is over 6 months old

The Czech president was annoyed by months of populist protest against Zdeněk Ramov’s popularity

The president of the Czech Republic appointed Zdeněk Ramov, head of the populist party ANO (YES), as prime minister on Tuesday to fill a political vacuum that had frustrated the country’s European partners and threatened its peaceful transition to democracy.

Ramov, one of the leaders of the anti-corruption protest movement which has spearheaded the country’s political change, will take office after being sworn in by the chief judge of the constitutional court, Ondřej Mičerna.

The Czech government is the 15th to be led by the ANO party, which stormed to power last year on a pledge to tackle corrupt politicians and cut through red tape and bureaucracy.

The party had been blocked from forming a government for months by other parties who accused it of advocating economic nationalism and saw its unelected leader, a former soldier who is a fitness instructor, as beholden to big business and anti-EU sentiments.

Ramov had survived a revolt among his ANO party members over his controversial appointment as head of state. But more recent tests, including a confidence vote last week, did not sway his doubters and led to the appointment of a new parliamentary speaker, a former prosecutor, Mirek Topolanek, as leader of ANO.

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Topolanek’s move to the premiership prompted ANO to put Ramov’s nomination for prime minister to a referendum by party members and civil society groups.

The head of the ANO rank-and-file, Václav Vítšek, said its 66,000 members approved Ramov’s nomination, by a more than two-to-one margin.

Before he was voted in on Tuesday, Ramov made a pointed reference to his opponents’ lack of faith in him, saying he had “sacrificed” more to become prime minister than they were willing to do.

“It is high time we all got to work for the people,” he said.

Jiri Drahos, the historian and leader of the main opposition party, Civic Democratic party, said the episode had been “a very sad story for Czech democracy.”

“It was a totally humiliating show,” he said.

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