Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Czech cabinet with ODS not option after ANO talks

ČTK |
26 January 2018

Prague, Jan 25 (CTK) - A Czech coalition of the ANO movement and the Civic Democrats (ODS) is unlikely to be formed and so is a coalition of ANO with the Social Democrats (CSSD) and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) ANO's talks with the three parties have indicated.

Both CSSD and KDU-CSL say they refuse to join a cabinet whose PM is prosecuted, referring to the case of ANO leader Andrej Babis, who is currently prosecuted over an alleged EU subsidy fraud in relation to the Capi hnizdo farm.

ANO, which won the autumn general election, also leads talks with the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and the Communists (KSCM), but claims it does not want to involve these parties' members in the cabinet.

ANO and the ODS together have 103 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.

The ODS has indicated after the talks with ANO it does not count with forming a joint cabinet with it, arguing there are no common points in their programmes as the ANO declined the drafts ODS presented in the Chamber.

A coalition of ANO with the CSSD and the KDU-CSL, which ruled in the previous election term, could also form a bloc of 103 deputies, but the KDU-CSL said after meeting with ANO last week it was moving to the opposition since it could not accept a PM who was being prosecuted. Babis said on Thursday the KDU-CSL's condition was unacceptable.

The CSSD, too, requires the cabinet to be free from prosecuted persons and has conditions concerning ministries' chief posts. Further talks with ANO have been postponed until the CSSD's February congress, which is to elect a new party leadership. According to CSSD acting chairman Milan Chovanec, ANO expects the CSSD to lower its sights after the congress.

Even if both parties did cooperate, they would only have 93 deputies in the Chamber and would have to rely on another party's support. Such support would not have to be active if 15 deputies left the Chamber before the confidence vote, it would be sufficient.

The Communists have 15 MPs and the SPD has 22. President Milos Zeman previously mentioned the possibility of a minority cabinet of ANO and the CSSD backed by deputies of some of the two parties.

KSCM chairman Vojtech Filip has admitted such option and his party has formed expert teams to debate their programme with ANO. He said they were open to voting for ANO in case a programme consensus is reached, but they refuse to enter the cabinet.

SPD chairman Tomio Okamura has said a few times his movement wanted to enter the cabinet in order to push through its programme. He admitted it might support a minority cabinet if it committed to fulfiling the SPD's priorities, including a referendum on the country leaving the EU.

Babis said on Thursday traditional parties were refusing ANO.

This is his second government-forming attempt.

He failed to push through his first minority one-colour cabinet in the Chamber when he only gained ANO MPs support for it. He presented his resignation to Zeman on Wednesday.

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