Will Babiš take up offer of a pardon?

The Czech Republic's Chief Prosecutor Pavel Zeman has reopened the investigation fraud investigation against Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš which was closed in September. But the country's president has offered Babiš a pardon, and the prime minister also has good connections in the judiciary. Commentators discuss whether Pavel Zeman's initiative is doomed to fail.

Open/close all quotes
Právo (CZ) /

The president as the Good Samaritan

Miloš Zeman could save his most important domestic partner with an act of mercy, Právo notes:

“Zeman has offered Babiš immunity from prosecution, but the prime minister wants to defend himself without the president's help. The president, however, can pardon people even without their agreeing to it. If he does it will create a situation that the fathers of the constitution could never have dreamed of. Because the prime minister must put his signature to individual pardons. If the prime minister were to grant himself a pardon, that would go beyond satire. It would be a textbook example of a conflict of interests.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

Better to wait and see

Mladá fronta dnes, which belongs to the Babiš group, sees a pardon as a bad way out for the head of government:

“President Zeman has promised to grant the head of government Babiš a pardon. But in the eyes of his half-hearted fans that could further damage the prime minister's reputation as it would look like an admission of guilt. It's probably for this very reason that the prime minister has kept repeating so far that he doesn't want a pardon. Well, we'll see how that turns out.”

Sme (SK) /

Investigation on thin ice

Prosecutor General Pavel Zeman, who ordered the reopening of the investigation against Prime Minister Babiš, is in an extremely delicate position, Sme believes:

“If Pavel Zeman is the last hurdle on Babiš's path to complete domination of the country, it may be only a matter of days before he's replaced as prosecutor. In the Czech Republic the Attorney General is selected solely by Justice Minister Benešová, who in turn is appointed by Babiš. In such a situation, how long can Prosecutor General Zeman hold out?”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Rule of law prevails

For Hospodářské noviny this is a good day for the Czech Republic:

“Not because Andrej Babiš is facing another trial; that would be gloating. But because we can say with relief that the Czech Republic is 100 percent a country governed by the rule of law in which even the highest political office does not protect a person against punishment. Babiš should step down as prime minister as quickly as possible. After a renewed examination by the European Commission it has become clear that he has a conflict of interests. Taken together, all this poses a major problem for the Czech Republic's reputation and makes it more difficult to satisfy our interests in the EU. It's extremely unhealthy when a key politician has to keep focusing on solving his own problems. This means that the country's real problems are left unsolved.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Babiš not out of the picture yet

Lidové noviny, which belongs to the Babiš group, has a completely different take on the situation:

“Prime Minister Babiš will once again be prosecuted after yesterday's decision by the Attorney General. This fact and the EU Commission audit according to which Babiš has a conflict of interest and must repay millions to Brussels could give many citizens the impression that Babiš's time as prime minister is over. But this is not the case. The sovereign people, the voters, don't care about all this. And Babiš won't give up now either. We will no doubt see more actions by the prime minister's opponents. But the latter should not forget that they weren't particularly successful with their previous attacks against the man who wields the political and economic clout.”