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‘It’s the EU’s fault!’ Strategies of blame avoidance in Andrej Babiš’s discourse on the conflict-of-interest case



Rok publikování 2022
Druh Článek v odborném periodiku
Časopis / Zdroj European Politics and Society
Popis The article investigates strategies of blame avoidance in the discourse of the Czech Prime Minister (PM), Andrej Babiš, on the conflict-of-interest case over the misuse of European Union (EU) funds. Taking a critical discursive perspective and working with a dataset of Babiš’s public pronouncements on his conflict of interest during the period of 2019–2021, the study uncovers the particular ways of arguing, framing, denying, characterising social actors, legitimising and manipulating that Babiš exploited when trying to avoid blame in the conflict of interest case. It reveals that the conflict of interest case has provided opportunities for the Czech PM to play a multi-dimensional blame game against the EU, orchestrate a discursive battle with the EU and invoke nationalist feelings. We argue that this discursive patterning signals a departure from his hitherto pragmatic approach to the EU, with Babiš increasingly radicalizing his explicitly exclusionary construction of the EU, promulgating anti-EU sentiment and countenancing the polarization between the EU on the one hand and the Czech Republic on the other.

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