Sunday, 22 April 2018

Lower house elects ANO's Vondráček its chairman

ČTK |
23 November 2017

Prague, Nov 22 (CTK) - The Czech Chamber of Deputies elected Radek Vondracek (ANO) its chairman in a secret ballot on Wednesday, in which 135 of the Chamber's 200 members supported him.

Vondracek, who was Chamber of Deputies' first deputy head in the previous election term, was nominated for chairman by the ANO movement, which won the October 20-21 general election. He was the only candidate running for the post.

Ballot papers were taken by 197 deputies. Out of them, 14 were cast against Vondracek, two turned out to be invalid and 46 deputies did not cast their ballots at all.

President Milos Zeman congratulated Vondracek on his election.

"Your election opens the path towards the resignation of the old government and the appointment of a new prime minister and a new government. As the president of the republic, I will proceed in a transparent way, without delay and with respect to the results of the parliamentary elections," Zeman said in a letter to Vondracek.

Since the establishment of the independent Czech Republic in 1993, Vondracek is the first head of the Chamber of Deputies who is not a representative of either the Civic Democrats (ODS) or the Social Democrats (CSSD).

Most probably, Vondracek was elected by the votes of his ANO and the deputies for the Pirates, the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and the Communists (KSCM), who signalled their support beforehand.

The ballots were probably not cast by deputies from the centre-right bloc comprised of the Civic Democrats (ODS), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents (STAN), which heralded this plan in advance.

It ensues from the voting statistics, that the Social Democrats (CSSD) probably voted against Vondracek.

After his election, Vondracek took over the plenary session's chairmanship from Jan Hamacek (CSSD), who was the Chamber's chairman in the previous election term.

Vondracek has seven predecessors in the post, including one woman, Miroslava Nemcova (ODS).

The chairman represents the Chamber of Deputies, which is the lower house of the Czech parliament, and he chairs its sessions in alternation with deputy chairpersons. He convokes the Chamber's sessions and submits passed bills to the president for signing them into laws.

The post of the lower house chairman becomes important in a situation where two new governments fail to win the Chamber's confidence in a row. If so, it is up to the lower house chairperson to propose a prime minister-designate.

Vondracek, 43, a graduate from Brno's Faculty of Law, worked as a defence lawyer before entering politics. He was elected a deputy for the ANO movement in 2013 for the first time.

He became the Chamber of Deputies deputy head this January, replacing ANO's Jaroslava Pokorna Jermanova who left the Chamber to focus on her new post of the Central Bohemia's regional governor.

Asked by the Pirates to present his plans in the post of the country's third highest constitutional official before the vote, Vondracek said he wanted to overcome the fragmentation in the lower house and the inability to lead a dialogue, and be a guarantor of a fair discussion. "Nobody holds a majority here, we can achieve something only by an agreement," he said.

He said he would like the house to have five deputy heads.

Vondracek also reacted to fears related to the possible third attempt to form a government. If two attempts to form a government fail, the prime minister-designate is not chosen by the president anymore but by the lower house head.

President Milos Zeman recently entrusted ANO leader Andrej Babis with forming the government. Zeman said he would entrust Babis again if the first attempt failed because ANO clearly won the elections. Some other parties feared that Vondracek would automatically again nominate Babis in case of the third attempt.

Vondracek said before the vote that the candidate for the prime minister-designate would be based on an agreement reached in the lower house.

He said he believed there would be no third attempt at forming a government.

The right-wing opposition claims that Babis will win support for his minority cabinet from the Communists (KSCM) and the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD).

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