Thursday, 21 June 2018

Respekt: Zeman, not Babis will define next government

ČTK |
22 May 2018

Prague, May 21 (CTK) - A government that will be in reality determined by President Milos Zeman, not Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) is in the offing, Erik Tabery writes in the weekly Respekt on Monday, analysing the government-forming talks between ANO and the Social Democrats.

Babis sees the Czech Republic's place in the West. In this respect, he can be trusted. He has never waged any campaign against the EU and does not defend the Kremlin's interests.

Despite this, the Czech bond to the West started loosening under his government and one can only fear that it will keep corroding even later.

It has happened to him what happens to the people who overestimate their own forces. He has failed to understand that not him, but Zeman is the decisive force.

All the parties now working on the creation of the new government, ANO, the Communists (KSCM) and the Social Democrats (CSSD), consult Zeman on their steps. To put it more precisely, they do not consult him, trying to enter his ideas even before he expresses them.

One can hear the voices that the government will include the people who do not represent the coalition parties, but Zeman.

While at the Russian embassy, Zeman said the next foreign minister should try to make the EU lift anti-Russian sanctions.

The Social Democrats want Miroslav Poche to be the foreign minister and the whole debate on the candidate has narrowed to his trying to assuage Zeman because Poche had supported his rival Jiri Drahos in the presidential election and his position is too much for the EU.

Zeman has said clearly that he will not name Poche.

So who sets down the Czech foreign policy? Under the constitution, it is the government and the president should conform to it, not the other way round.

One can come across the success of Zeman's policy on each step. By having a direct influence on the Social Democrats and Communists (in the former through selected politicians, in the latter through the whole party), Babis is becoming his hostage.

ANO realises this, due to which it must advocate its cooperation with the Communists with fascinating constructs.

This is exemplified by ANO deputy chairwoman Jaroslava Pokorna Jermanova having said that the Communists were not pro-Russian, while she herself is adapting herself to them.

She said the Czech Republic belongs neither to the East nor the West.

"We should be neutral, becoming a bridge between the countries that are unable to arrive at an agreement," Respekt quotes her as saying.

Babis promised modernisation, but he has come up with a fight to keep the positions the Czech Republic acquired after 1989 instead.

It is clear that the situation will even worsen if the government is formed. The Communists will be able to dictate their demands more and more. Sooner or later, Babis may start resenting this and he will perhaps stop the cooperation, but the harm will already be done.

Is there any way out of this? Tabery asks.

It may still happen that Babis will realise into what problems he is pushing both himself and the Czech Republic and refuse the government, arguing that he will not give the nation as a toy to the Communists. He may try to form a democratic government or support an early election. However, this is unlikely.

Irrespective of whether the government determined by Zeman will be formed or not, the Czech Republic is changing already.

The state companies, officials, diplomats and security forces are being determined by ANO. All those knowing that they can be dismissed or influenced by Babis's government, now also know that he is the master of their fate. With every dismissed person, his influence (and the fear of him) are growing.

No one has come up with any solution with which to challenge this. Parliament, the crucial national institution, has become a mere discussion club, Tabery concludes.

Copyright 2015 by the Czech News Agency (ČTK). All rights reserved.
Copying, dissemination or other publication of this article or parts thereof without the prior written consent of ČTK is expressly forbidden. The Prague Daily Monitor is not responsible for its content.