Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Czechs would hardly tolerate gov't-forming talks protraction

ČTK |
18 April 2018

Prague, April 17 (CTK) - Most Czechs are annoyed at and would hardly further tolerate the election-winning ANO's still inconclusive talks on forming a new government and the continuing rule of ANO's single-party minority cabinet that failed to win MPs' confidence in January, Josef Koukal writes in Pravo on Tuesday.

People are dissatisfied with this status quo although President Milos Zeman asserts that a cabinet without parliament's confidence is full-fledged and can take any steps, replace state officials and keep in power indefinitely, Koukal writes, adding that based on Zeman's original interpretation of the constitution, the current "outgoing" cabinet of ANO leader Andrej Babis might survive until the end of the election term in 2021.

Sixty percent of Czechs are fed up with the series of Babis's alternating meetings with Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Jan Hamacek, far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) chairman Tomio Okamura and President Zeman, and they would assign the government-forming negotiations to someone else, Koukal writes, referring to a fresh public opinion poll.

Those dissatisfied make up a majority of citizens, which means that Babis, who is supposed to form a government enjoying parliament's confidence, has been quickly losing people's confidence himself, Koukal writes.

In the past six months that have elapsed since the October 2017 general election, Babis has failed to reach any reliable agreement except the scandalous cooperation project with the far-right SPD and the Communists (KSCM), Koukal writes.

The three parties, with a total of 115 seats (including ANO's 78) in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, arose in the wake of the elections and it could have comfortably formed a government since, he writes.

Nevertheless, Babis has made unsuccessful overtures to the Civic Democrats (ODS, 25 seats) and the CSSD (15) in the meantime, Koukal writes.

Earlier this month, the conditions he offered to the CSSD as ANO's potential coalition partner were so undignified that, if accepted, the CSSD's role in a two-party minority government backed by the KSCM would have shrunk to only ceremonial, Koukal writes.

Babis is now trying to correct his approach in reopened talks of ANO and the CSSD, and he has promised to reach agreement by the end of the week. However, he has made similar promises several times before, Koukal writes.

Scepticism prevails among the public. People do not markedly prefer any of the possible variants of a coalition government. They give the "cautiously highest" support to an ANO-CSSD coalition tolerated by the KSCM, which, nevertheless, is supported by only 37 percent of them. The same number of people wish a caretaker government, an emergency solution which is the worst imaginable in democracy, Koukal writes.

The variant the people prefer the least of all is the ANO minority government supported by the SPD and the KSCM, which would be the easiest to form for Babis but which he does not want, Koukal writes.

In addition, Babis has to submit every variant he eyes to President Zeman for approval, and his meetings with Zeman regularly result in his opinion turbulences, Koukal writes.

On arrival in the presidential seat on Sunday, Babis believed that the allied air strikes in Syria were inevitable, but on departure, he was of the view that the air strikes solved nothing and that negotiations are needed, Koukal writes as an illustration of Babis's changes of mind.

A week ago, Zeman advised Babis to negotiate about government cooperation with the KSCM and the SPD, but shortly afterwards, ANO decided to resume the talks with the CSSD, Koukal writes.

For people not to believe that Babis and Zeman are cheating them, the reopened ANO-CSSD talks should be short and definitive, whatever their result, Koukal continues.

More and more people dislike the idea of ANO repeating another round of separate talks with all thinkable potential partners and meanwhile continuing to rule without parliament's confidence. If the protracted negotiations finally failed and an early election were called in the autumn, the voters might punish the current ANO minority government that has been ruling "in resignation" since January, Koukal writes.

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