Magazine article Global Finance

Czechs, Poles Seat Private-Sector Prime Ministers

Magazine article Global Finance

Czechs, Poles Seat Private-Sector Prime Ministers

Article excerpt

Andrej Babiš of the Czech Republic and Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland are both former finance ministers with solid backgrounds in business and finance and reputations for getting things done. And both are now prime ministers.

There are differences of course: Babiš is an outspoken billionaire who was forced to relinquish two newspapers and companies with lucrative state contracts to avoid conflict-of-interest charges. Morawiecki is more of a technician, who was involved in negotiating Poland's accession to the European Union before going on to chair Bank Zachodni WBK, part of the Santander Group.

Despite having been an independent before joining the governing Law and Justice Party (PiS) in 2016, Morawiecki is less obviously his own man. Ironically, parliamentary arithmetic makes him more secure. The Czech Republic's fractured parliament leaves Babiš dependent on a fragile coalition. The two assume office at a time when both countries are experiencing strained relations with Brussels over issues ranging from migrants to controversial proposed taxes-and in Poland's case, judicial changes that the EU says are incompatible with membership. …

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