Wednesday, 22 November 2017

KSČM may back Babiš in exchange for tax on church compensation

ČTK |
13 November 2017

Prague, Nov 10 (CTK) - Imposing a tax on the financial compensation for Czech churches within their property restitution is one of the demands that the Communist Party (KSCM) has on a possible minority in the Chamber of Deputies, KSCM deputy chairman Jiri Dolejs told CTK on Friday.

He thus indicated that the Communists may support a majority government if this bill is passed. KSCM chairman Vojtech Filip said earlier the Communists may tolerate a minority government if its programme suits them.

"It still remains a realistic way to correct the inadequate present given to churches in 2012," Dolejs said about the bill.

He said Andrej Babis, whose ANO movement is the strongest party in the Chamber of Deputies, mentioned the taxation of the financial compensation to churches before the elections. He noted that the KSCM prepared a bill on the taxation.

Daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Friday that Babis wants to impose a tax on the financial compensation paid to churches.

In reaction, Social Democrat (CSSD) deputy chairman Jan Birke said the CSSD wanted to push the taxation through in the past election period, but gave up the plan because its government partner, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), was resolutely against it.

He said he would support the possible taxation.

Birke said this issue may cement "the diabolic coalition" of ANO, the KSCM and Tomio Okamura's Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement, which also supports the taxation.

Babis sought support for his planned minority government from the democratic parties after the October elections, but they rejected it. Babis previously said he would not ally with the anti-NATO KSCM and the anti-EU SPD. The three parties would have a comfortable majority in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies. ANO has 78 MPs, the SPD 22 and the KSCM 15.

According to the restitution law from 2012, churches will be returned land and real estate worth 75 billion crowns, confiscated from them by the communist regime, and given 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property during the following 30 years. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.

Civic Democrat (ODS) influential politician Vaclav Klaus Jr told CTK that he was not in favour of the church restitution law in the first place, but that imposing a tax on the financial compensation was not a solution.

The three smallest parties in parliament - the KDU-CSL, right-wing TOP 09 and the centrist Mayors and Independents (STAN) - are against the taxation.

The Christian Democrats say it is immoral to tax property that the communist regime stole from churches. KDU-CSL deputy head Jan Bartosek said on Twitter that retroactive laws go against the Constitution and that Babis does not respect fundamental legal principles.

Babis would ally with anybody to achieve his goals, Bartosek told CTK.

TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek opposes the idea, too. "Compensation for stolen property is no income. It thus cannot be taxed. This would be just another theft and injustice," he tweeted.

STAN chairman Petr Gazdik said it would be a bad signal if the next government changed agreements retroactively. He said he considers ANO's support for the taxation a concession made in exchange for the KSCM support for the minority government.

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