Czech Billionaire Signs Coalition Deal Eight Months After Election

(Bloomberg) -- Czech billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis signed a coalition agreement with the Social Democratic party on Tuesday, formalizing a deal to create a minority government that followed more than eight months of negotiations.

The agreement gives Babis his second administration since winning elections last October after his first effort to lead a single-party cabinet was torpedoed by lawmakers in January. Shunned by most mainstream parties because he is being investigated for fraud, the second-richest Czech struck a deal with the Social Democrats, with whom he ruled as a junior partner in the previous government.

Babis has clinched tacit backing from the Communist Party, drawing criticism from center-right opposition groups for giving the heirs of the totalitarian party that led the country for four decades after World War II a say in power. While the Communists want to take the nation of 10.6 million out of NATO, Babis has pledged to stay anchored in western military and economic alliances, although he has clashed with German and French leaders over migrant policies and efforts to integrate further with the European Union.

The government, appointed by President Milos Zeman last month, is expected to face a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday. The motion should be a formality, as the two coalition parties hold 93 mandates and the Communists have pledged their 15 votes, a comfortable majority in the 200-seat assembly.

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