Tuesday, 24 April 2018

PM: ČSSD may field presidential candidate

17 May 2017

Prague, May 16 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) does not see any leftist presidential candidate and that is why it is considering fielding its own one who would stand up to the power pact between President Milos Zeman and Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO), PM Bohuslav Sobotka said on Tuesday.

In an interview with CTK, Sobotka, who leads the CSSD, ruled out his possible candidature.

He said Zeman's approach to his proposal to dismiss Babis reflects their mutual support for their ambitions to be re-elected president and to become the prime minister.

The Czech Republic will hold a general election in October and a direct presidential election in early 2018.

"We, Social Democrats, should do everything in the elections for that Andrej Babis be not the prime minister and we are conducting a serious debate about the presidential election," Sobotka said.

"This is no surprise. In February already (political analyst and commentator) Jiri Pehe, who stands close to the prime minister, said Bohuslav Sobotka will do everything for Milos Zeman not being re-elected," presidential spokesman Jiri Ovcacek, currently accompanying Zeman on his China visit, said.

"After what Milos Zeman did, he has lost support within the CSSD. The discussion on whether we should field our own candidate has again started," Sobotka said.

The CSSD has previously postponed an intra-party referendum on the issue until November. Until then it will be waiting for the appearance of a leftist candidate inside the CSSD or outside it he said.

Unless none is found, the CSSD will be considering supporting a contender.

"I think that it would not be good for the future of the Czech Republic if we had prime minister Andrej Babis and president Milos Zeman in a power tandem, which would actually control the Czech Republic as Babis's firm," Sobotka said.

Zeman and Babis's alliance is evident in a number of cases, Sobotka said.

"It was Milos Zeman who filed a constitutional complaint about the law on conflict of interests, Sobotka said.

The law affected Babis, who transferred his Agrofert holding, which also includes some media, to trustee funds to comply with the legislation in February.

Sobotka said the recently published audio recordings, which indicate that Babis influenced his media, showed that the law was correct.

But Zeman filed a complaint against the law "which is a breach of the role of an impartial president who should not meddle with these things," Sobotka said.

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