Friday, 21 September 2018

LN: ČSSD's demands in gov't talks not immoderate at all

ČTK |
4 May 2018

Prague, May 3 (CTK) - The Social Democrats (CSSD) do not have immoderate demands for ministries in the talks on a coalition government with the stronger ANO movement, but they just follow a common strategy in politics, Petr Kolman wrote in daily Lidove noviny (LN) on Thursday.

Andrej Babis's ANO, which has 78 mandates in the 200-seat lower house, has offered five ministries, including the Interior Ministry, to its potential junior coalition partner, the CSSD, with mere 15 MPs. Babis's current ANO minority government, which keeps ruling after it lost confidence in the Chamber of Deputies and resigned, has 15 members, including PM.

However, the criticism of "orange extortionists," hinting at the party colour of the Social Democrats, is unrightful. "There has always been a simple rule valid in politics: you will simply have what you will negotiate," while a moderate approach does not pay in this respect, Kolman, lawyer and university teacher, writes.

Moreover, looking at the past coalition governments of the Czech Republic, the CSSD's demands are not exorbitant at all, while ANO's offer is not too generous either.

Kolman reminds of the coalition cabinet formed after the 2006 general election by the winning Civic Democrats (ODS), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) an the Greens. The ODS gained over 35 percent of the vote and 81 mandates, which is more than ANO won last October, while the KDU-CSL had 13 MPs and the Greens mere six.

Yet the division of posts in their coalition cabinet was fifty-fifty - the ODS had nine ministers, while the junior parties had the other nine together. This gesture made by then PM and ODS chairman Mirek Topolanek was much more generous than what Babis promised to the CSSD.

It is clear that ANO needs the CSSD as a facade for Brussels. ANO could have formed a coalition more easily with the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), which has 22 MPs. However, a coalition with extremists, how the SPD is generally perceived in Europe, would shut the door to European structures to Babis. This is why he prefers cooperation with the CSSD, though he keeps prevaricating and speaking in a different manner outwardly.

In the previous coalition government of the CSSD and ANO (with the junior KDU-CSL), in which the division of forces was the opposite, the Social Democrats and ANO were mainly at odds about personnel issues and not the programme.

Kolman also expressed surprise at the fact that the CSSD demands the Interior Ministry so vehemently in exchange for accepting the criminally prosecuted PM Babis in a government.

In other words, why does the oldest Czech political party (CSSD) insist on the Interior Ministry? Why is it not primarily striving for the education and labour and social affairs ministries in view of its programme priorities? Kolman asks.

The fight for this office indicates that politicians either do not trust in the police independence or they do not trust one another. This is a rather sad message saying the Czech security forces are not yet fully independent and this is why parties must control the Interior Ministry to prevent their political competitors from abusing it against them.

Though politicians are constantly speaking about the independence of police, state attorneys, the BIS counter-intelligence service, the General Inspection of Security Corps (GIBS) and all other armed forces, their immense fear of their political rivals controlling the Interior Ministry actually proves that the independent character of these bodies is not as strong as they proclaim, Kolman concludes in LN.

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