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Czech PM, named in Pandora probe, leads polls ahead of vote

Results are expected later on Saturday.

08 October, 09:44
(ANSA-AFP) - PRAGUE, OCT 8 - A populist billionaire at odds with the European Union who featured in the Pandora Papers is the narrow favourite in Czech elections starting on Friday that promise a tight result. Prime Minister Andrej Babis will seek a second straight victory for his populist ANO political party despite his lukewarm handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and his clash with the law. The 67-year-old food, chemicals and media mogul is facing police charges over an EU subsidy fraud and the bloc's dismay over his conflict of interest as a businessman and a politician. Last weekend, the Pandora Papers investigation showed he had used money from his offshore firms to finance the purchase of property in southern France in 2009, including a chateau. He slammed the allegations as a smear campaign, and opinion polls still peg the former Communist Party member as the election favourite, with support reaching up to 30 percent. "The key question is whether the populist policy will prevail over traditional and more responsible politicians," said Tomas Lebeda, an analyst at Palacky University in the eastern city of Olomouc. Polling stations open at 1200 GMT and close at 2000 GMT before voting resumes at 0600 GMT on Saturday and ends at 1200 GMT. There will be no exit polls and the results are expected later on Saturday. (ANSA-AFP).

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