The government wants to allow Czechs living abroad to vote by post, starting from the 2025 parliamentary election. At present, voting from abroad requires a trip to an embassy (for all elections except European Parliament and Senate ballots, for which Czechs have to head home). But the planned new rules would change that, affecting some 400,000 to 600,000 Czechs living abroad (although experts POLITICO spoke to said the number of potential voters using the new system would likely be no more than 100,000). In the last parliamentary election, in 2021, around 13,000 people abroad voted.
“The proposal in its current form is incredibly complicated … lots of people will think twice before they actually go through with it,” political scientist Lubomír Kopeček told POLITICO.
The lower chamber of parliament, in which the government coalition has a majority, approved the legislation in a first reading on Thursday.
But Babiš — whose party is way ahead in voting predictions, according to POLITICO’s Poll of Polls — doesn’t want the legislation introduced at all. He says postal voting risks fraud and poses a threat to democracy. In his speech to parliament, he echoed the talking points of Trump and other U.S. Republicans who claimed that the last American election was “rigged” in favor of Biden, and called on Czechs to come home to vote.
The ANO party has also called mail-in ballots unconstitutional because they cannot be cast in secret (as is called for in the Czech constitution).
Babiš’ party has performed quite the U-turn on the issue, however, having promised to introduce postal voting as part of its election program.
Now it wants a nationwide referendum in an attempt to stop the government’s initiative on postal voting, as well as its policies on accepting migrants, the abolition of the right of veto in the EU, and the potential introduction of the euro as currency: all of these topics that will resonate in the election campaign.
The possible introduction of the single EU currency in the Czech Republic, which still uses crowns, remains a particularly contentious issue, as one of the coalition parties, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), is against the idea.