Factbox-Key policies of main Czech parties contesting election

People cast their ballots during the parliamentary elections in Lovosice
People cast their ballots during the parliamentary elections in Lovosice, Czech Republic, October 8, 2021. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

October 8, 2021

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Czechs began voting on Friday in a tight election in which Prime Minister Andrej Babis hopes to win a second term despite criticism over his handling of the pandemic, the country’s growing debts and his own business interests.

Babis’s ANO party is projected to win most votes but two opposition groups have vowed to work together to oust him and it is unclear whether he will be able to secure a majority in the lower house of parliament.

All the main parties have said they will not raise income tax to help pay for the rising debts. They are also opposed to accepting immigrants under any possible quota system from the European Union and have been critical of the potential impact of European climate targets on Czech industry.

Below are the biggest parties and their main manifesto policies:

ANO

The populist, centrist main party in the current ruling coalition party was set up by Babis, a billionaire businessman.

FISCAL POLICY:

* No tax hikes, improve tax collection, cancel exceptions

* Raise average monthly pension to 20,000 crowns ($908) by 2025 from 16,280 crowns (as of January 2022)

* Public sector deficit should narrow slowly over the next 7 years

EU, FOREIGN POLICY:

* No more powers to Brussels

* No referendum on leaving EU

* No euro adoption

* Raise defence budget to 2% of GDP, no deadline given. More than 100 billion crowns for army equipment

* Focus on ties with neighbours – Austria, Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

Together (Spolu)

Opposition coalition of the centre-right Civic Democrats (ODS), centrist TOP09 and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).

FISCAL POLICY:

* Lower public sector deficit to 1.5% of GDP by 2025

* No tax rises

* Streamline state spending, improve tax collection

* Tax brake – if the combined tax burden reaches certain level, no taxes can be raised unless some are lowered

* Tackle dividend outflow by investment incentives

* Split on euro adoption, no plans for adoption soon

EU, FOREIGN POLICY:

* No alternative to EU and NATO membership

* Raise defence budget to 2% of GDP by 2025

* Lean on NATO for security, no European army

* Support democracy, human rights in countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, Cuba and elsewhere

Pirates/Mayors (Piratska Strana/STAN)

A progressive, liberal coalition of the Pirate Party and the centrist STAN movement that includes mayors from around the country.

FISCAL POLICY:

* Cut public gap to less than 3% of GDP by 2025

* No rise in main income or value-added taxes

* Raise commercial real estate, mining taxes, legalise and tax marijuana

* Improve tax collection and streamline spending by digitalisation, cost cuts, limiting public wage rise

EU, FOREIGN POLICY:

* No alternative to EU and NATO membership

* Foreign policy based on values human rights, climate responsibility

* Enter the pre-euro ERM2 exchange rate mechanism by 2025 with view to euro adoption later

Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD)

Czech-Japanese businessman Tomio Okamura built the far-right, anti-immigration party.

FISCAL POLICY:

* Budget expenditure has to match revenues

* Cut value-added tax, excise tax

* No euro adoption

EU, FOREIGN POLICY:

* Leave the EU

* Referendum on EU exit a condition to join government talks

* Referendum on leaving NATO

* Czech troops to withdraw from all foreign missions

($1 = 22.0200 Czech crowns)

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Gareth Jones)