PRAGUE — The man poised to lead the Czech Republic following elections this week is a polarizing billionaire who vows to drain the swamp of this capital city’s politics, run his country like a business and keep out Muslim immigrants.
He casts himself as the straight-talking voice of the common man and derives support from the country’s forgotten communities. He makes a sport of attacking the European Union and says NATO’s mission is outdated. He pledges to put his own nation’s interests above all else but is dogged by investigations into alleged shady dealings that threaten to cripple his political career.
“He’s operating with fear. Promoting danger — the E.U. and migrants,” said Ivan Gabal, an independent member of Parliament who is aligned with the center-right Christian Democrats. “That’s the whole strategy.”