ANO 2011. ANO 2011 is a very new but quickly successful Czech party. ‘Ano’ is the Czech word for ‘Yes’, and ANO was originally an acronym for Action of Dissatisfied Citizens.
ANO is the personal project of Andrej Babis, the second richest man in the Czech Republic. Babis’ vast business holdings and quick entry into politics led the press to dub him ‘Babisconi’.
Babis’ party is solidly anti-corruption (Babis claims he is too rich to bother with corruption) and anti-establishment, perhaps even anti-politician, but otherwise its platform has been rather vague. Babis has said that the country should be run ‘like a business’ and that government is a poor manager.
Other than that Ano is a fairly vague party, with broadly liberal, anti-establishment and centre-right themes.
Babis was accused of running his party like a demagogue, and the ‘Babisconi’ nickname became even more popular after Babis’ empire bought MAFRA, the largest Czech media group which owns two newspapers, three TV stations and two radio channels.
Babis’ anti-corruption and anti-politician messages proved extremely popular in the 2013 Czech election. From the party’s launch in late 2012 it only started to show up in opinion polls in January of 2013, by August it was polling above the threshold to enter parliament and by September it was polling in double figures. In the end ANO won 18.7% of the vote in the Czech election, coming just three seats short of the winning Social Democrats in a highly fragmented parliament.
After drawn out coalition negotiations ANO eventually entered government and Babis became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
Since being elected Babis has expressed soft Eurosceptic views, saying that Czechs do not want to integrate further into the EU and stating his opposition to the Euro.
After joining the government ANO received a boost in the polls, going up to first, but the party has since fallen back. Nonetheless, ANO will clearly be the big winner of the European elections even if they do not come first.
It is currently unclear which Europarty ANO might join. Considering its liberal leanings it might join the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats for Europe (this also has the advantage of containing no other Czech member parties), or its soft Eurosceptic and centre-right views might make it a natural for the European Conservatives and Reformists, but then it would have to cooperate with the Civic Democrats.