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Zeman tasks Babiš with forming new government

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Lany, Central Bohemia, Oct 31 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman entrusted Andrej Babis, leader of the election-winning ANO, with the talks to form a new government on Tuesday, which is an informal step, not embedded in the constitution, but it is supposed to lead to Babis’ being named the prime minister.

Babis said earlier he would like to form a minority government.

Zeman has supported the idea and he will not want to have signatures of a majority of members of the Chamber of Deputies to appoint Babis as prime minister.

Zeman expressed the expectations that the Babis’ government would be stable and successful.

Zeman said he did not give the condition of gaining majority in the Chamber of Deputies to Babis because ANO had won the election with a large margin and he considered Babis a successful businessman and minister.

Zeman said in the current situation he would not support the model of the “opposition agreement” between ANO and some different party as between 1998 and 2002.

Within the power-sharing pact, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) was in the opposition, but still it backed a Social Democrat (CSSD) government led by Zeman.

“I do not think that a new opposition agreement could be formed for a simple reason. This would presume the existence of two parties with approximately the same strength, which is not the case in the Czech Republic,” he added.

Zeman said he would call on other parties to support Babis’ minority government.

He also said he would name Babis the prime minister also for the second time if the Chamber of Deputies did not express confidence in his first government.

Zeman said he would make his utmost to prevent early election in the Czech Republic.

Zeman named four reasons for entrusting Babis with talks on a new cabinet.

“The first and most important reason is that he is the election winner with a considerable lead ahead of all others. The second reason is that he is a successful businessman whose firm pays taxes in the Czech Republic. Third, he is a politician who has built up a strong and successful political movement and the last reason is that he was a successful finance minister who had brought the state budget to a surplus for the first time,” Zeman said.

Babis said he would try and form a government as soon as possible. By Christmas, he wants to come up with a government manifesto.

“This is a great day for our movement. I feel honoured that the president asked me to lead talks on a government,” ANO chairman Andrej Babis said.

“I only regret that the parties that have entered parliament refuse to create a coalition government with ANO… this is why ANO will be trying to form a minority government and persuade the MPs about our programme,” Babis added.

After the talks with Zeman, Babis repeated that he wanted to have experts who were not ANO members in the one-colour government. However, they did not discuss any specific names with Zeman.

In the past days, the media published the information that the Babis’ government could include Miroslav Toman, who was in the caretaker government of Jiri Rusnok (2013-2014), also appointed by Zeman.

Babis said it was vital to constitute the Chamber of Deputies soon so that the state budget law could be passed, thanks to which the country would avoid a stopgap budget.

Zeman proceeded in the same way four years ago, before he appointed the current government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD).

Zeman can only appoint a new government after the government resigns.

Sobotka’s government must submit its resignation after the newly elected Chamber of Deputies meets.

Zeman has called its constituent session for November 20.

Earlier on Tuesday, TOP 09 Miroslav Kalousek called for the blocking of the election of the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies so that the lower house could not be formed. This would prevent the creation of ANO’s minority government.

Babis and Zeman criticised Kalousek’s proposal. Babis said the appeal was irresponsible, adding that it was unfortunate that Kalousek was staying in the politics.

Zeman said the blocking of the constituent session of the Chamber of Deputies was deplorable.

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