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Centrist Babis Leads Early Results in Czech Vote

Centrist Babis Leads Early Results in Czech Vote”

At 7.2 percent, the ruling Social Democrats of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka were on course for their worst result since the country peacefully split with Slovakia in 1993.

State election officials citing results from almost 73 percent of polling stations said Babis's anti-corruption and anti-euro ANO (Yes) movement was ahead with 30.87 percent support with the far-right Freedom and Free Democracy (SPD) in second place on 11.19 percent.

"I think his policy is for the people", pensioner Alena Kolarova said after voting in Prague and praised Babis for "restoring order in public finances and tax collection" during his three-year stint as finance minister that ended in May. Polls show he is likely to become the next prime minister despite allegations of fraud linked to European Union subsidies.

If talks with mainstream parties fail, there is also the possibility ANO may form a cabinet with backing from the Communists and the far-right, anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SDP) party.

Result projections, modeled on actual voting results with 58.6 percent of voting stations reporting, showed the center-right Civic Democrats to be the second strongest party, with 11.4 percent of the vote.

Eight parties and groupings are in line to win seats. And despite facing a fraud indictment, Babis captured around 25-30 percent support in a recent Median agency survey, putting ANO miles ahead of its current coalition partner, the left-wing Social Democrats, who scored just 12.5 percent. "These elections are a turning point in the country's journey, both for its internal functioning and its anchoring in the European Union", said the daily, adding that "Czech democracy. has undoubtedly reached a critical point".

Mr Babis's ANO (Yes) party campaigned on an anti-establishment and Eurosceptic platform.

With joblessness at 3.8 percent in September, the Czech economy which is heavily reliant on auto exports is slated to grow by a healthy 3.6 percent this year.

France's far-right National Front Marine Le Pen sent Okamura a message of support.

Two days of balloting that started Friday are being held to fill 200 seats in the lower house of Parliament.

The ANO party of billionaire businessman Andrej Babis was seen winning a Czech parliamentary election with 29.1 percent of the vote, results projections based on 8.8 percent of voting stations reporting showed on Saturday.

Officials pegged voter turnout at over 40 percent on Friday.



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