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Social Democrat senators against government with ANO

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Prague, April 25 (CTK) – Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) senators do not want the party to form a government along with Andrej Babis’s ANO and it should stay in opposition, the senators told journalists on Wednesday.

The senators will present this position to the party rank-and-file before a possible intra-party referendum on the question of whether it should form the coalition government led by Babis.

They said they respected the decision of the CSSD board to restart the government-forming talks from Friday.

However, given the conditions ANO is offering, the CSSD should not enter the government.

The senators feel appalled at Babis being reluctant to step down if he is convicted in the first instance of his possible trial over an EU subsidy fraud, while this was promised by the ANO negotiators, they said.

“Babis himself is doing his utmost for the Social Democrats not being able to agree in the referendum,” Petr Vicha, chairman of the Social Democrat senator group, said.

Vicha said the Social Democrats might be split over the position on the government.

Senate chairman Milan Stech (CSSD) said “virtually all” members of the group agreed with the position.

The Social Democrats have 24 senators in the 81-member upper house, creating its strong group.

The planned government is to rely on the tolerance of the Communists as the Social Democrats and ANO do not have a majority of votes in the Chamber of Deputies.

Vicha said under normal circumstances the five ministerial posts offered by ANO would be a great success, given the result the CSSD had in the autumn general election.

The Social Democrats only gained some 7.3 percent of the vote.

However, there are three arguments against the idea. First, Babis’s criminal prosecution, second, ANO and the CSSD do not command a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, due to which they will have to rely on Communist tacit support. Third, it is the voting alliance of ANO with the Communists and the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), Vicha said.

Vicha and Stech said the Friday vote on the restarted talks was quite narrow.

Before, it was “put clearly” by the Social Democrats that a prosecuted person would step down if convicted in the first instance, they said.

Senator Jiri Dienstbier (CSSD) said the condition was very mild and given the length of trials, it was postponed indefinitely.

The talks between ANO and CSSD on the creation of the government are scheduled for this weekend.

CSSD leader Jan Hamacek said he did not understand the radical rhetoric of the Social Democrat senators.

Hamacek stressed that it had been the party board that decided on the restart of the talks.

“The decision of the party congress and board is binding for the negotiating team and I expect the same approach from other party members,” Hamacek wrote to CTK.

“According to a decision of the party board, the party leadership proceeds in the way that it would pass a possible agreement to the party rank-and-file for approval,” Hamacek said.

“In such a vote, each party member will have one vote, be it the party leader, deputy, senator or just a regular party member,” Hamacek said.

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