An internal referendum of the Social Democrats on whether to take part in a
coalition government with ANO gets underway on Monday. The referendum,
which will run until June 14, will be valid if at least a quarter of the
party membership takes part. The results will be published on June 15.
The Social Democrats last week announced the names of the party’s nominees for the five portfolios the Social Democrats should get in the cabinet. The names included party leader Jan Hamáček, who should head the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The party also insists on Miroslav Poche’s candidature for the post of foreign minister, despite president Zeman’s disapproval.
The Social Democrats have been deeply divided about forming a government with ANO leader Andrej Babiš, who is facing criminal charges for alleged EU subsidy fraud, and the result of the referendum is expected to be tight.
The Senate on Thursday approved the planned reinforcement of some of the
current military missions abroad as well as presence of new troops in the
Baltics. However, the missions are yet to be approved by the lower house,
the Chamber of Deputies, whose defence committee did not issue any
recommendation last week.
Communist party leaders said last week they had a problem with increased Czech participation in missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the possibility of the Czech army playing a role in a NATO rapid reaction force in the Baltic States.
They have warned that they could refuse to support a proposed ANO-Social Democrat minority coalition government if the missions are boosted.
Czech defence minister Karla Šlechtová has warned that she does not
necessarily have to be in a new government headed by current prime minister
and ANO leader Andrej Babiš.
Šlechtová’s comments follow revelations in Wednesday’s edition of the daily Lidové Noviny that she paid hundreds of thousands of crowns for the use of the VIP airport lounges at Prague’s airport in her previous post as minister for regional development.
Šlechtová has accused the newspaper, which is owned by Babiš, of waging a campaign against her.
The minister was in recent months frequently floated as an alternative ANO leader who might be tasked with creating a new government if Babiš failed.
Social Democrat deputy leader Jaroslav Foldyna declined on Friday to
apologise to the party’s top branch for his behaviour at a gathering of
Russia’s Night Wolves bike gang in Prague on Monday.
At the event Mr Foldyna got into altercations with protesters against the nationalist bikers, who have been linked to President Vladimir Putin. Afterwards, Mr Foldyna released a video – recorded by weights in a gym – refusing to apologise and describing himself as a patriot.
Earlier on Friday, Senate chairman Milan Štech said Foldyna had no business being in the party leadership. While he declined to apologise, the deputy leader said he was sorry he had put pressure on party chairman Jan Hamáček.
Political parties and other groups held events in Prague and elsewhere in
the Czech Republic on Tuesday marking May Day, which is a holiday. The
Communist Party had a gathering at the capital’s Výstaviště, the
Social Democrats were on Střelecký ostrov, ANO were at Ladronka and the
Civic Democrats were on Petřín hill.
Anarchists organised a gathering in Prague while the far-right Workers Party of Social Justice and other groups came together in Plzeň.
In the Czech Republic May 1 is also considered a day of lovers and homosexual rights group We Are Fair created a huge cake in Prague in support of marriage equality.
The ANO party of prime minister Andrej Babiš still tops political
preferences according to a survey conducted by the CVVM agency, albeit with
a reduced lead.
April’s poll shows ANO with support from 29 percent, down from March’s 30.5 percent. The Civic Democrats improved to 13.5 percent and the Pirate party unchanged at 12.5 percent. The Social Democrats advanced to 11.5 percent from the previous month’s 11 percent. The communist party fell back to 10 percent from March’s 11 percent.
The poll suggests around 58 percent of eligible voters would take part in elections.
Social Democrat members of the Senate have come out strongly against a
possible coalition government with ANO headed by an Andrej Babiš facing
criminal charges, iDnes.cz reported on Wednesday. The Social Democrats’
Senate speaker Milan Štěch said that Mr. Babiš, who should be the chief
representative of the executive, was constantly suggesting that the charges
against him were a stitch-up.
Social Democrat senator Petr Vícha said that when Mr. Babiš insisted he would not stand down even if found guilty of abusing EU subsidies he was doing his utmost to ensure a Social Democrat internal vote on a coalition with ANO would not pass.
The chairman of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, said he did not understand why his party’s senators were making such resolute statements when coalition talks were still ongoing.
Negotiation teams of ANO and the Social Democrats are scheduled to meet on
Monday to hold talks about the possibility of cooperation in a future
minority government supported by the Communist Party.
Previous talks between the two parties had collapsed after ANO refused to give up either the Finance Ministry or Interior Ministry portfolio. Last week, the leadership of ANO decided to renew the talks, since some ANO were opposed to entering a government involving the anti-migrant Freedom and Direct Democracy.
The Social Democrats said last week they would wait for the offer from the ANO party before they decided to renew the government negotiations.
ANO won 78 mandates in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies in elections in October but have so far failed to create a majority administration.
President Miloš Zeman will receive the prime minister in resignation
Andrej Babiš on Sunday to be updated on the state of coalition government
negotiations. Mr Babiš, tasked with a second attempt at forming a viable
government, so far has not been successful in reaching an agreement with
possible coalition partners.
The head of state previously urged the prime minister to negotiate with the Communists and the anti-Islam and anti-migrant Freedom and Direct Democracy. Following talks on Thursday, however, ANO did an about-face with the intention of reopening talks with the Social Democrats. Last week negotiations with the Social Democrats over a possible minority government fell apart over demands for certain portfolios.
The head of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, has also asked to meet with the head of state.
ANO chief Andrej Babiš has come out against early elections as a possible
solution to the ongoing political impasse in the Czech Republic. Speaking
on Saturday, the prime minister in resignation said nobody wanted snap
elections. He said another solution must be sought as everybody was now
tired of the situation
Mr. Babiš said he had come under fire but parties such as the Civic Democrats and had ruled out forming a coalition with ANO soon after elections in October, in which his party received almost 30 percent.
The Civic Democrats and other groupings refuse to work with a government headed by a prime minister facing criminal charges. Mr. Babiš is accused of abusing EU subsidies.
His indictment was also a point of contention during coalition talks with the Social Democrats, which collapsed this week.