Getting to the position of a high-ranking politician requires a lot of effort. But in the case of many politicians, their success is based on unfortunate personality and psychological characteristics that they are able to use to manipulate at least part of the public.
Andrej Babiš is such an example. He is a ‘deprivant’. This term, introduced by Professor František Koukolík, indicates a condition in which a person fails to achieve human normality because of a disturbance in the emotional sphere. In relation to normality, deprived people are, to varying degrees, mentally “failed” or “crippled”. According to Professor Koukolík, deprived people aim all their efforts at acquiring power and possessions through the manipulation of other people, lacking an adequate amount of responsibility, altruism and creativity.
From a professional point of view, the cause of Babiš’s condition lies in the fact that he has two “beings” within him. The first is conscious and planning, with a calm stoic attitude and minimalist gestures. But when confronted with unpleasant facts, Babiš quickly switches to the second being through different facial expressions, affected theatrical gestures and hysterical expressions. Depending on the current situation, Babiš’s “personality” is constantly changing from the nice, sympathetic and smiling one – to the angry, impetuous and arrogant one. The result is a completely unbalanced person.
This unbalanced inner state has its consequences. Firstly, Babiš is unable to acknowledge mistakes other than by outright denial (‘it’s a political case, I did nothing’) or by feeling sorry for himself, which he demonstrated perfectly at his first press conference after the elections when he said: ‘I am sorry when I am considered evil. I have dedicated more than 10 years of my life to the country for the benefit of the people. I did not need to go into politics.”
Another consequence is the purposeful use of one’s own environment as a means to meet one’s own needs, at the cost of any resources or “losses” on the other side. An example is Babiš’s swearing on his children in the case of the Stork’s Nest or his statement at the ANO congress to the deputy chairman: “I pay, I decide, you are here to get me members, not to interfere.”
Babiš perceives the debates as potential attacks on his fragile psyche, and so he is quite uncomfortable with them, which can be seen, among other things, in the fact that Babiš is unable to maintain eye contact during the talks. He responds promptly to questions, always has an answer, takes the floor at the cost of not speaking to the topic but quickly digressing. He often accuses, attacks or insults his opponents, and exaggerates his role in society and politics. However, if he finds it to his advantage, he can make fun of himself, use self-irony and throw down some of his absurd statements with playful detachment.
The conclusion is that Andrej Babiš fulfills the definition of a clinical psychopath, namely a person who is primarily characterized by his detachment from reality and healthy balanced interpersonal behavior and reasoning. A personality disorder of Babiš’s type is one that is in a permanently defensive position. His main tactic is to counterattack, attacking what he fears most, regardless of any facts or context. A prime example is his almost absurd comparison of Peter Paul to Putin regarding the communist past; not only was Babiš in the party twice as long as Pavel, but he was an active StB agent.
Babiš strikes his voters as a capable manager and leader, a confident, successful boss with unusual personal energy, to whom it is enough to “throw a vote” and he will take care of everything. They appreciate the fact that he speaks normally (he justifies the fact that he does not even speak Czech properly by saying that he is “one of us”) and that he has “honestly worked his way” to wealth in the same way (and with the same tactics) as Trump, and thanks to this, he “understands” the problems of existence. For them, Babiš’s wealth means he doesn’t need to steal or get involved in scandals. The result is the aura of a cult of personality where it doesn’t matter what he does or says, but only that he is.
It may seem that in an egalitarian, xenophobic society a whiny foreigner will not catch on, but the opposite is true (see Okamura), and that is, because such politicians perfect populism. Populists excel on the basis of growing social frustration (no matter what the cause) that overflows into despair. A savior comes forward to sort it all out, who then keeps strengthening his position by constantly manufacturing fictitious threats – such as impending war – which he fights against for everyone. This creates a vicious circle that perfectly fulfills the savior’s personal interests. As a result, he destroys the emotional and moral values of society. But for the frustrated, jaded and often politically illiterate voter, it’s a simple way out.
This article was translated from the original published in the magazine Přítomnost.
published: 24. 1. 2023