Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Results of Czech elections mirror U.S., demonstrate global frustrations

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On Friday, the people of the Czech Republic went to the polls and overwhelmingly elected billionaire-turned-politician Andrej Babiš as Czech prime minister.

If the phrase “billionaire-turned-politician” is not already ringing in your ears, fellow Americans, let us take a moment to go through Babiš’s comprehensive rap sheet.

Babiš is the second richest man in the Czech Republic, with his net worth clocking in around $4.1 billion. Despite being a famously “self-made man,” no one is totally sure how Babiš made his money. What many do agree on, however, is that there has been plenty of scandal along the way. The most recent scandal was a two million-euro fraud charge filed just this month.

If you still are not seeing the correlation to American politics, here is a hint: Babiš is an anti-establishment populist who (here’s the kicker) has promised to run the Czech government like “a family firm.”

Maybe it’s just Halloween in the air, but I’m half expecting those meddling kids from the Scooby Doo gang to pull off Babiš’s mask to reveal Donald Trump.

Halfway across the world, in a country with a completely different political history, Czech voters made an eerily similar decision to one that American voters made less than a year earlier.

It isn’t merely that the voting constituencies of both countries have the same bad taste in men, either. The platforms of Trump and Babiš focus on most of the same vague, radically nationalist ideals. Both are anti-immigration, anti-establishment and, despite their many scandals and large influence in the economic sector, have said time and time again that they plan to rid their respective governments of cronies and corruption.

While Babiš and Trump operate in different hemispheres and on different continents and have strikingly different hair, they represent the same thing to the voters of their respective countries. People, worldwide it seems, are angry. They feel like they’ve been cheated, be it by globalization or corrupt governments. So who better to return what has supposedly been taken from them than an angry businessman who’s not afraid to ruffle some feathers?

Yet it seems likely that the Czech voters may see some retribution for their actions sooner than Americans or may at least be more willing to admit their mistakes. The Czech elections may serve as a case study for Americans as to what would happen if Trump’s erratic decision-making wasn’t cushioned by 241 years of largely uninterrupted democratic development.

For a country like the Czech Republic, resting unsteadily on the post-Soviet brink, a leader this precarious won’t just be the butt of a political joke – or if he is, it might be a joke with a slightly darker punchline. With Babiš as prime minister and his ANO party holding 78 of 200 seats in parliament, a Czech friend recently told me to appreciate the time I have studying here – because this election could be the end of democracy in the Czech Republic.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Cadence is a junior at Newcomb-Tulane College studying abroad for the Fall 2017 semester in the Czech Republic. She can be reached at [email protected]

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
Results of Czech elections mirror U.S., demonstrate global frustrations