The Social Democratic Party elected Jan Hamáček, deputy chairman of the lower house, as the party’s new leader on Sunday, entrusting him with the task of entering into negotiations on a possible coalition government with Andrej Babiš’ ANO party. The move may bring a breakthrough in the stalled government talks.
The former leading Czech government party, the Social Democrats, faces a crunch meeting over the weekend to choose a new leadership and try and patch the party up after disastrous election results last October. Key issues will be whether to go into government with ANO’s Andrej Babiš and what approach to take with the recently re-elected Czech president.
The Czech Republic is a small step closer to a bill on general referendums after four parties in the Chamber of Deputies agreed they will back a proposal by Freedom and Direct Democracy in a first reading. The parties in negotiations, including ANO, have a constitutional majority necessary to make changes. However they remain at odds over what form these will take.
Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikán has expressed strong concern over Freedom and Direct Democracy head Tomio Okamura’s questioning of conditions at a WW II-era concentration camp for Roma in Lety, South Bohemia. Although Mr Okamura apologized for an earlier false statement about Lety, he continues to question the accepted truth about the camp.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is making a second attempt to form a new government after his minority government failed to win a vote of confidence in the lower house, has said that if his second attempt fails he would push for early elections. His potential partners have accused him of applying pressure tactics ahead of the second round of talks.
Disinformation and its role was one of the themes of the latest Czech presidential elections. Re-elected head of state Miloš Zeman was cast as pro-Russian and so it was a question how much stories boosting his chances and smearing the reputations of his opponents would be used during the campaign. The jury appears to be out, though some experts believe home grown disinformation played much more of a role than anything that was imported.