Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Senate rejects plan for LIDEM to establish MPs' group

14 March 2013

Prague, March 13 (CTK) - LIDEM, the smallest partner in the Czech coalition government, cannot establish its group in the Chamber of Deputies for now since the relevant draft legislation was turned down by the Senate, the leftist opposition-dominated upper house of parliament, yesterday.

The controversial draft amendment to the parliament's order of procedure will be again discussed by the Chamber of Deputies in which the three-party government commands a fragile majority of votes and may override the Senate's veto.

The proposal lowers the number of deputies that is required for a deputies' group to six from the present ten.

Besides, it reduces the opposition's chance of blocking bills in final reading by obstructions except for 9:00 to 14:00 on Wednesdays and Fridays.

LIDEM, which splintered from the Public Affairs (VV), has kept the government afloat since the VV's withdrawal to opposition last spring.

It seeks to establish its own group of deputies entitled to state subsidies for its work, but it has fewer than ten lower house seats.

The Chamber of Deputies first passed the proposal in favour of LIDEM in February. Unlike then, the senior ruling Civic Democrats (ODS) voted against it in the Senate yesterday.

The senators protested against the provisions accommodating to LIDEM having been included, by the Chamber of Deputies, in a draft amendment to the order of procedures that was originally submitted by the Senate and aimed to toughen the rules of the passing of bills by parliament.

The Chamber of Deputies deleted the latter objectives from the draft, the senators complained.

"The Senate received a mere set of proposals modifying [its original draft]," said Miroslav Nenutil, senator for the senior opposition Social Democrats (CSSD).

Eliska Wagnerova, unaffiliated senator for the Greens and former Constitutional Court (US) judge, said the draft modified by the lower house is a typical example of what the US previously criticised as inappropriate inserting of ad hoc riders in unrelated bills by deputies.

If the Chamber of Deputies overrides the Senate's veto, the amended parliament order of procedures would meet with the opposition of President Milos Zeman.

Zeman recently said he would veto the draft.

To override the president's veto, the government would need support of the absolute majority (101) of all deputies.

The vote was the last of the present Senate session. The upper house will start its next session in a week, with the abolition of the life immunity of lawmakers among the points on agenda.

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