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Czech News in English » News » Politics » PM, president have traditional New Year's luncheon

PM, president have traditional New Year’s luncheon

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Lany, Central Bohemia, Jan 2 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and his wife Olga had a traditional New Year’s luncheon with the presidential couple, Milos and Ivana Zeman, at the chateau in Lany near Prague yesterday.
The meeting lasted about two hours. Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said the main course was fallow deer meat in cream sauce with dumplings.
After the luncheon, Sobotka said on Twitter that they talked about their children and about the year that started on Sunday.
Zeman has a son from his first marriage and a daughter with his second wife Ivana. Sobotka and his wife have two sons. The prime minister tries to keep his family away from politics and media attention.
This may have been the last luncheon the two politicians had together at the presidential chateau because the general election is due in late 2017 and a new government is likely to rule the country next year.
Sobotka’s Social Democrats (CSSD) are lagging in popularity behind the ANO movement of Finance Minister Andrej Babis, however, they may join forces with other parties against the billionaire Babis. This already happened in some parts of the country in the autumn after the regional elections that ANO won.
As the next presidential election is scheduled for the early 2018, the presidential campaign will begin this year. Zeman will announce in March whether he is going to be defending his post. No other presidential candidate whom observers would consider strong has appeared so far. Zeman is highly popular among the public, but many people strongly dislike him.
Sobotka said previously they might talk with Zeman about some presidential vetoes during the New Year’s luncheon.
In December, Zeman vetoed a bill on the conflict of interest because he said it is aimed against Babis who owns many firms and several media. The parliament can override the veto.
The relations between Sobotka and Zeman have been reserved for a long time. Zeman is a former CSSD long-standing leader who made the party popular in the 1990s. After the 2013 general election, Zeman met a group of CSSD leading figures who later tried to remove Sobotka from the top post in the party, but the plan failed.
The two politicians often criticise one another. Zeman claims that Sobotka is no strong personality, while Sobotka labels the president a populist.
Last month, Sobotka said Zeman’s speech about the state budget in the lower house of parliament seemed to be biased in favour of Babis. In reaction, Zeman said he praised ministers for the good results of their work and that he would be happy to praise Sobotka, too, once he achieves something praiseworthy.

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