Babiš can win the presidential election if he keeps the democratic camp divided

Babiš must pray that the democratic candidates weaken each other as much as possible. And so far it works out for him. Facebook photo by Andrej Babiš

Andrej Babiš follows a well-thought-out plan in the race for the post of president. At this stage, his strategy can best be described as “divide and rule”. By refusing to participate in the presidential debates, he reinforced the perception that the presidential race was a battle between him and a “pack” of other candidates.

The fact that the other candidates will try to convince the public in the debates that they should be the next president — not only with the help of presenting their program, but certainly also with the help of attacks on the other candidates participating in the debates — is advantageous for Babiš. They are thus trying to copy the strategy of Miloš Zeman before the second presidential election, which was based on the fact that Zeman will not “get involved” with political dwarfs before the first round, he will concentrate his forces only on the second round.

Babiš is still relatively certain to advance to the second round, as shown by public opinion polls. He can count on the voting base of the ANO movement, i.e. approximately twenty-five to thirty percent of voter support. That should be enough for him to advance to the second round, unless the Democratic candidates unite against him in the form of a joint strategy.

For Babiš, it is therefore important to divide the rest of the field as much as possible. His team must be wringing their hands when they hear assurances in the media, often from respected political scientists and commentators, that in the first round every citizen should vote according to his “heart”, and only in the second round, if his candidate does not advance, to start behaving strategically according to the slogan “I choose the lesser evil”.

At the moment, Babiš’s team wants to divide the rest of the candidate field in such a way that Babiš gets to the second round. Depending on who his opponent will be, strategies are already prepared to compromise such an opponent as much as possible. A good starting point will be if Babiš advances to the second round as the winner of the first.

How to shuffle through the field of contenders

Babiš has not yet participated in the presidential debates, not only because he is at a disadvantage in them due to his inability to keep his nerves in check, his way of expressing himself and being burdened by numerous scandals. But mainly because by reinforcing the image of “Babiš against the others” he can influence the preferences of his rivals in various ways.

In the center of his attention is undoubtedly General Petr Pavel, who, according to polls, would defeat Babiš by a relatively large margin in the second round — if he gets to it. The same polls show that a fight in the second round with any of the other candidates would be much easier for Babiš.

The main goal of Babiš’s team must therefore be to “not let” Pavel into the second round. It is no coincidence that a campaign against Pavlov has been launched in the media, in which he discusses how much he did with the former regime as a member of the Communist Party of the Czech Republic and a participant in an army course for future spies. By not participating in the debates with the other candidates, Babiš, who also has a kanky before 1989, will benefit from the fact that the other candidates will almost certainly define themselves against Pavlov as the biggest favorite so far, even with the help of the aforementioned “sensational” revelations, and will so a piece of “dirty work” for him.

If Babiš participated in the debates, he too would certainly become the target of similar attacks, but he is not giving his opponents the opportunity to do so. Moreover, he knows that YES voters, who can catapult him to the second round, are indifferent to his pre-November past.

What each candidate did before 1989, however, is not indifferent to a considerable number of voters in the democratic camp. And that is what can be used not only to divide them, but mainly to weaken Pavel.

So far, this strategy is working out great for Babiš. Danuše Nerudová has already overtaken the pair of current favorites in public opinion polls, whose rapid rise began at the very moment when “sensational” revelations about Pavlo’s past before 1989 began to appear in the media.

How can the Democrats give Babis a check

Babiš knows from surveys so far that he has a much better chance of defeating Nerudová in the second round than Pavel, so part of his strategic goals have now already been fulfilled. The second part is to disorganize the rest of the field of Democratic candidates so that they do not come together for a common course of action.

If the candidates who, according to the polls, will not have a real chance of advancing to the second round two weeks before the first round of the presidential election, withdraw and support Pavel and Nerudová, it could happen that Babiš will not advance to the second round at all.

According to the latest survey from the workshop of the Kantar agency, there is minimal difference between the preferences of Babiš, Pavel and Nerudová before the first round. While Babiš has, so to speak, nowhere to increase his preferences before the first round, with the possible exception of the potential resignation of SPD candidate Jaroslav Bašta in his favor, both Pavel and Nerudová could increase their preferences by a few percent if the other democratic candidates withdrew before the first round and divided their support between them.

Babiš’s task, having already succeeded in significantly increasing Neruda’s preferences, is now to feed mutual animosities and individual egos in the democrats’ camp in such a way as to thwart the possibility of a gesture that in the past presidential elections in Slovakia — in the form of the resignation of civil society candidate Robert Mistrík in favor of Zuzana Čaputov — contributed to her election. It cannot be completely ruled out that the televised debates will mix up the previous preferences so that even one of the other “democratic” candidates, who are still lagging behind Pavle and Nerudová, will have a real chance to reach the second round, but in the light of past experience, such a scenario is improbable.

What is certain is that, regardless of whether any of the “democratic” candidates will be in positions of “unelectability” two weeks before the first round of the presidential election, perhaps the biggest moment of their political career could be to step down in favor of the two leading candidates of the democratic camp, and thus increase significantly the chance that Babiš would not make it to the second round. The defeat of Babiš in the first round would fundamentally change the political scene in our country.

If Babiš makes it to the second round, moreover against a candidate he can defeat (while his media and propaganda machine will tirelessly and effectively beat such a candidate before the second round with the help of already prepared ammunition), President Babiš will destabilize, even subvert in the years to come democratic conditions in our country.

If Babiš makes it to the second round and loses by only a few percent, he can return to the head of the opposition in the House of Representatives effectively strengthened under certain circumstances, because he will be able to brandish a result that will almost certainly greatly exceed the support of roughly a third of Czech society, which he has as head of ANO.

Defeat in the first round would be… — well, a total defeat. That is also why the goal of Babiš’s current strategy is to reach at least the second round under all circumstances, ideally against a candidate who, according to polls, he can beat.

And in this context, he also aims to ensure that his opponents from the democratic camp remain divided. Especially so that those who will not have a real chance to advance to the second round do not think of resigning in favor of those who will have a chance to knock Babiš out of the presidential election already in the first round.


Source: Deník referendum by denikreferendum.cz.

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