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Právo: ČSSD diverting from President Zeman

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Prague, May 6 (CTK) – The Czech senior government Social Democrats (CSSD) have declared a war on President Milos Zeman, their former popular chairman, definitively diverting from him due to his behaviour in the current government crisis, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in daily Pravo Saturday.

The government crisis broke out on Tuesday, when PM Bohuslav Sobotka said he will hand in the government’s resignation due to dubious business deals of Finance Minister Andrej Babis whose presence in the cabinet is unacceptable for the CSSD.

After it turned out that Zeman plans to sack Sobotka only, and not the rest of the cabinet, Sobotka decided not to tender the resignation to him at their meeting on Thursday. Next morning, he proposed to Zeman to dismiss Babis.

For many years it seemed that nothing can break the ties between a part of CSSD members, functionaries as well as voters and Zeman, who, as the CSSD chairman in 1993-2001, markedly improved the party’s popularity and brought it to power in 1998.

Not even the hostile lash outs Zeman has repeatedly made against the CSSD since 2003 made his fans in the party break with him, Mitrofanov writes.

However, their loyalty is over now that Zeman showed his genuine face amid the government crisis, with his impertinent approach to Prime Minister and CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka at their joint press conference on Thursday being the last straw, Mitrofanov writes.

He quotes several CSSD deputies as calling the press conference “a shameful performance directed by Zeman and motivated by his thirst of revenge” and “Zeman’s clownery that harmed our country’s reputation in Europe and in the world,” and saying that Zeman has unveiled his genuine face of an old man who seeks nothing but revenge.”

Sobotka was one of several CSSD lawmakers who prevented Zeman’s election as president by parliament in 2003 and whom Zeman therefore considers “traitors.”

Some CSSD deputies have also voiced indignation at Zeman telling Sobotka, in an allusion to a CSSD leadership meeting early on Thursday, that decent people sleep at 7:00 and do not work so early in the morning.

“I think his statement offended many people who have to be at work as early as 6:00,” CSSD deputy Vaclav Votava is quoted as saying.

Also sharply criticising Zeman’s behaviour, Senate chairman Milan Stech (CSSD) said the CSSD would consider filing a constitutional complaint against Zeman if he failed to dismiss Andrej Babis (ANO) as deputy PM and finance minister at Sobotka’s request.

This amounts to a declaration of war, Mitrofanov writes.

Although many Social Democrats like to remember the time they were younger and Zeman led the party to an election victory, their left-minded resistance to bigwigs’ haughtiness has prevailed in them now. Zeman has become such a haughty bigwig. His remark that decent people do not work at 7:00 was the last straw, Mitrofanov writes.

The CSSD is no longer likely to field Zeman as its candidate in the early 2018 presidential election, he writes.

Elsewhere in Pravo, Jiri Pehe says each Zeman and Babis have been harming their own position by their behaviour in the government crisis.

If Zeman lost the January 2018 presidential election and wanted to learn why, he may watch a video with his May 4 impertinent attempt to humiliate PM Sobotka at their Prague Castle press conference in live transmission, Pehe writes.

Babis, on his part, has been losing points by kicking around himself, refusing to explain things and attacking others instead. This tactic is counterproductive in the current emergency situation, Pehe writes.

Even Babis’s fans must feel it strange that he is clinging to the post of finance minister so vehemently in a situation where the prime minister wants him to go. Does Babis hide something at the ministry? Does he need to control the ministry at any cost until the October general election? Pehe asks.

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