Saturday, 18 August 2018

Zeman not to support any candidate at ČSSD congress

ČTK |
9 February 2018

Prague, Feb 8 (CTK) - President Milos Zeman will not explicitly support any of the candidates running for Social Democrat (CSSD) head or deputy head in his address to the participants in the CSSD election congress on February 18, he said in his interview in private TV Barrandov broadcast on Thursday.

Zeman said the CSSD is split and in a deep crisis.

In the autumn general election, the CSSD won 15 seats in the 200-member lower house of parliament, which has been its worst result so far. Zeman was CSSD leader in 1993-2001. Following disputes with its leadership, Zeman left the CSSD in 2007 and a new small party formed around him in 2010.

Zeman said all the three main candidates for CSSD leader supported him in the recent presidential election in which he defended his post, but other CSSD politicians backed his rival Jiri Drahos.

Zeman defeated Drahos in the election runoff on January 27. The three main rivals for the new CSSD leader are the party’s acting head and former interior minister Milan Chovanec, lower house deputy chairman Jan Hamacek and former regional governor Jiri Zimola.

Chovanec invited Zeman to the CSSD congress. Zeman was not invited to the previous congress. He had repeated disputes with former CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka who was replaced in the post of prime minister by ANO leader Andrej Babis in December 2017. Babis is trying to form a new government as his minority cabinet failed to win support from parliament last month.

The interview was made before Zeman’s dinner with Babis on Thursday.

Zeman said he will try to support Babis because he appointed him prime minister and because he can see no other potential prime minister.

He said there seems to be no reason for him to meet representatives of political parties in connection with the formation of a new government. Zeman only might meet representatives of the parties that are considering backing Babis’s minority cabinet. He said he may help unite those who were ready to tolerate the government.

The tolerance would of course have to be given in exchange for some programme or personal demands, Zeman said.

He said it seems Babis is negotiating about the next government rather well. He said he would moderate the negotiations only in a critical situation and if both sides asked for it.

Zeman rejected the idea of an early election being held.

He repeatedly said he would not use his right to declare an early election if three attempts to form a stable government failed.

Zeman said Babis would be stupid to give up the post of prime minister because one does not leave the posts one wins in politics.

Most of the other parties refused to join a government headed by Babis because he faces criminal prosecution over a suspected EU subsidy fraud.

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