Czech President Miloš Zeman is in a stable condition in intensive care after he was hospitalized following a dramatic election that saw a majority of voters reject the country’s populist prime minister.
Zeman, who plays a crucial role in choosing the next prime minister, was admitted to Prague’s Central Military Hospital on Sunday after holding talks with embattled PM Andrej Babiš.
In Saturday’s nail-bitingly close vote, most voters backed two opposition coalitions who now have enough seats in parliament to form a government.
The Czech Republic’s political future remains in limbo while Zeman is treated, however. One of the president’s main constitutional roles is to select the next prime minister to form a government.
A spokesman for the hospital told CNN on Monday that Zeman’s condition had stabilized.
“The reason for [Zeman’s] hospitalization is complications from the illnesses for which he has been receiving treatments,” doctor Miroslav Zavoral said in a brief statement to the press on Sunday, adding he could not yet talk about the prognosis.
Video from outside the presidential chateau in Lány, west of Prague, showed an ambulance leaving the compound with a police escort and limousines.
Zeman has been suffering from a range of health problems over recent years. On advice of his doctor, he voted in the country’s general election Friday from the presidential retreat, instead of at a school in Prague as was previously scheduled.
Zeman was taken to hospital shortly after speaking with Babiš – a day after the election in which the PM’s ruling party ANO appeared to have lost its grip on power, and the two opposition groups who won a majority said they planned to form a government together.
Zeman has not said whom he would ask to form the next government. But he previously indicated he would ask the leader of the largest single party, rather than a coalition.
Complicating matters further, Babiš’s ruling ANO party won the most seats among individual parties – but has no clear path to a majority in the lower house.
Dramatic day at the ballot box
Babiš’s ANO party was edged out by the narrowest of margins by the two opposition coalitions trying to unseat him, according to the Czech Statistical Office.
The center-right alliance Spolu (Together) won the most votes with 27.79% of the ballots, followed by Babiš’s ANO party with 27.12%, and the centrist PirStan coalition on 15.62%.
“We are the change. You are the change,” Spolu coalition leader Petr Fiala said Saturday, claiming victory before a cheering crowd.
The leader of the PirStan coalition, Ivan Bartoš, said talks with Spolu “on the possibilities of forming a new government” would likely begin on Saturday.
“The dominance of Andrej Babiš is over, and the democratic parties have shown that the era of chaos will probably be behind us,” Bartoš said.
After winning a combined 108 seats in the 200-seat lower house on Saturday, talks between the two groups who campaigned against Babiš ended with the leaders of the five parties in the combined coalitions signing a memorandum to work together to form the next government.
A new government would distance the Czech Republic from populist parties in Hungary and Poland, which have increasingly come under fire for rolling back European Union democratic values.
The tight election also comes just days after a Pandora Papers investigation into controversial financial dealings by Babiš and other world leaders. The report claimed the Czech prime minister secretly moved $22 million through offshore companies to purchase an estate on the French Riviera in 2009, before he entered politics.
Responding on Twitter, Babiš said he had “never done anything unlawful.”
A businessman who is worth about $3.4 billion, according to Bloomberg, Babiš has railed against the elite since he became prime minister in 2017, vowing to crack down on tax avoidance.
But his premiership has been dogged by long-standing allegations of financial impropriety.
CNN’s John Mastrini reported from Prague, Sheena McKenzie wrote in London. Sarah Dean and Amy Cassidy contributed to this report.