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Czech ANO party keeps big lead before October election - Median poll

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The ANO party of Czech billionaire Andrej Babis maintained a strong lead ahead of next month’s parliamentary election, while two anti-establishment parties looked more likely to win seats, a poll by the Median agency showed on Friday.

The leader of ANO party Andrej Babis arrives at an election campaign rally in Prague, Czech Republic September 28, 2017. REUTERS/David W Cerny

ANO’s support inched up by 0.5 percentage points to 27.0 percent, widening its lead over Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s Social Democrats, whose support dropped by one percentage point to 13.5 percent.

Creating the new government may prove difficult for ANO because its founder and leader Babis faces a police investigation over an alleged European Union subsidy fraud. Babis has denied any wrongdoing.

Some party leaders such as Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek from the Social Democrats have ruled out participating in a coalition led by someone charged by the police.

Support for the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), a movement with strong anti-EU and anti-Islam views, rose to 6.5 percent in September from 6.0 percent in August in the Median poll.

Pirates, who campaign with images of some of the leading politicians behind bars, increased their share to 6.0 percent from 3.5 percent.

The main Czech parties have focussed predominantly in their election campaign on economic issues such as wages and regulations.

The booming domestic economy, which grew 4.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, has helped to push unemployment in the country of 10.6 million to the lowest level in the European Union, while wages have grown rapidly.

Eight parties would cross the 5 percent threshold required for parliamentary representation, the survey showed. The polls must end three days prior to the election date.

The parties are:

- The Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) - Centre-left

- ANO - A centrist party run by billionaire Andrej Babis; ANO means ‘yes’ in Czech

- Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) - Far left, anti-NATO

- Civic Democratic Party (ODS) - right, liberal-conservative

- Christian Democratic Union-Czechoslovak People’s Party (KDU-CSL) - centrist, conservative.

Plans a pre-election coalition with the STAN movement

- TOP09 - Centre-right

- STAN - Mayors’s movement. Plans pre-election coalition with the Christian Democrats

- SPD - Freedom and Direct Democracy. Anti-EU, far-right

- Pirates - A Czech version of the anti-establishment Pirate movement

Reporting by Robert Muller; editing by Gareth Jones