WARSAW — Political outsiders across Central Europe, preaching a populist message and promising to overturn the establishment, have felt the wind at their backs since the election of the new American president. We recently profiled one of them, Veselin Mareshki of Bulgaria, who says he sees himself as “an anti-establishment candidate like Donald Trump.” Many others embrace the connection, too, whether it is their backgrounds in business, their bombastic personalities, or their canny use of celebrity and social media.
Andrej Babis, 62, Czech Republic
Undoubtedly the best-known businessman-turned-politician in Central Europe, Mr. Babis transformed an agribusiness conglomerate into a diversified corporate behemoth that includes major media properties. In 2011, he formed his own party, ANO, and promised to bring business sense to government on an anticorruption platform. The party did so well in parliamentary elections that Mr. Babis was named finance minister. He is widely considered the likeliest next prime minister. He has rejected comparisons with President Trump, whom he criticized as a poor businessman. But he has also added that he and the new American president share an aversion to immigration and a tendency to say politically incorrect things.
Boris Kollar, 51, Slovakia
Mr. Kollar, a wealthy businessman, formed his own political party last year — Sme Rodina, or “We Are Family” — and shocked the Slovak establishment by earning 11 seats in the country’s 150-seat National Council on a platform of libertarian economics, Euro-skepticism and fierce opposition to more immigration. His slogan: “Trust me, I’m not a politician.” A well-known tabloid figure and media celebrity, Mr. Kollar has 10 children from nine different mothers.
Bogoljub Karic, 63, Serbia
Mr. Karic, along with three brothers and a sister, built a family business empire that has expanded to telecommunications, construction, finance, media and international trade. He also started the private BK University. But his initial foray into politics ended with his fleeing into exile in 2006, under investigation by Serbia’s chief organized crime prosecutor, which he characterized as politically motivated. Mr. Karic returned to Serbia on Dec. 30, just days after the prosecutor ended the investigation without charges. Mr. Karic denies he will run for president in the coming elections, but notes that his party, the Strength of Serbia Movement, recruited 60,000 new members since his return from exile.
Aivars Lembergs, 63, Latvia
The extent of Mr. Lembergs’s wealth, and its source, are fairly vague, but he has used his business and political acumen to remain the mayor and chief political force in the seaport of Ventspils, an office he has held since 1988, the year before communism fell. Flamboyant, outspoken and a familiar figure in Latvian media, Mr. Lembergs made his fortune in the tumultuous years after the transition to capitalism. His politics are populist. He refers to NATO as “an occupying force.” And he remains the leading figure in a coalition between his party and the Union of Greens and Farmers, a strange-bedfellows conglomeration of environmental activists and conservative farm groups. He has faced repeated charges of corruption, money laundering, bribery and abuse of office.
Zbigniew Stonoga, 42, Poland
Mr. Stonoga owns two auto dealerships and is an avid blogger who created his own political party, named after himself. He is infamous for his blunt, and sometimes vulgar, language and for epic YouTube rants against “Zionists,” tax officials and Polish leaders. He opposes any fresh influx of migrants, whom he refers to using an American racist epithet. He is best known in Poland for having leaked a series of top secret documents from Poland’s Agency of Internal Security, resulting in the resignation of several ministers under the previous government. How he came to possess the documents has never been explained, though he insisted that he stumbled across them on a Chinese internet server. His Stonoga Polish Party collapsed after performing poorly in parliamentary elections, and he now channels his efforts through an online journal (also named after himself).
Ivan Pernar, 31, Croatia
Relatively young and still on the edges of Croatian politics, Mr. Pernar invites comparison with President Trump not for his background in business but for his position as a political outsider who uses social media and attention-grabbing attacks on opponents. He first came to public attention by using Facebook to organize a series of antigovernment protests in 2011 and seemed regularly at odds with political decorum. He was once scolded for eating pizza on the floor of Parliament. Mr. Pernar’s populist message is decidedly pro-Russian and anti-NATO, but also includes some attitudes from the conspiratorial fringe, including dire warnings about the pernicious influence of Freemasons. Mr. Pernar was recently removed from the floor of Parliament for interrupting proceedings with random anti-European Union diatribes.