Prague, Dec 29 (CTK) – The idyllic alliance of the two strong partners in the Czech government, PM Bohuslav Sobotka´s Social Democrats (CSSD) and Finance Minister Andrej Babis´s ANO, will end now with the 2016 Senate and regional polls and the 2017 general election drawing nearer, Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote Tuesday.
Sobotka, well trained in patience, and Babis, with a vigour of a businessman, have little in common. In spite of this, the government coexistence of the two and their parties has shown unseen stability, outwardly at least, MfD writes.
Although CSSD and ANO officials have been playing little tricks on each other, the atmosphere is different between the two parties´ leaders. Sobotka reacts with a stoic calmness to impulsive and impatient appearances of Babis. He does so even at the cost of being labelled weak and yielding-to-Babis by his fellow CSSD members, the paper writes.
However, the so far relative peace in the government, interrupted by rare exchanges of fire such as Babis´s presentation of a file he kept on CSSD deputy Ladislav Sincl, is ending now that the above series of elections has drawn nearer, the daily writes.
These days, Sobotka has indicated the path he is going to take. “We will launch an important debate on further raising of the minimum wage. In my opinion, it should increase to 11,000 crowns at least as from January 1, 2017,” Sobotka told server iDnes.cz.
This would be another increase after the 700-crown increase (to 9,200 crowns) that the Sobotka government pushed through as from January 1, 2016.
Besides, some in the CSSD headquarters are starting to say that the party´s confrontation with Babis´s ANO movement is necessary, MfD writes.
“Next year, we will have to launch a sharper rhetoric towards our coalition partner,” said Milan Chovanec, interior minister and CSSD first deputy chairman who seeks the position of the party´s hawk, MfD writes.
One cannot but guess how the sharper rhetoric would look like. Clashes can be expected over issues linked to the migrant crisis, but they can occur on a purely ideological level as well, the daily writes.
ANO, which entered parliament for the first time in 2013, might try again to apply its election slogans such as “all [previous political leaders] were thieves,” the daily says.
The CSSD, on its part, might brand ANO an authoritarian movement that only pretends being democratic, or it might highlight Babis´s suspected clash of interests as a top politician and the billionaire owner of the giant Agrofert holding, the daily writes.
The Babis-Sobotka exchanges of fire definitely will not be as fierce as the lash-outs their right-wing predecessors, Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) and Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS), made at each other in the early 2010s.
“We do not want to quarrel like the Necas government. We know that people are allergic to it. Nevertheless, we should turn more dynamic,” Chovanec is quoted as saying.
After all, Sobotka himself stepped up his assertiveness of late, also when he ran into a dispute with President Milos Zeman over the latter´s public appearance side by side with anti-Islam group leader Martin Konvicka, MfD writes.
All parties expect the migrant wave to be among the chief election topics ahead of the autumn 2016 regional polls. They will seek ways to approach the topic without giving the impression of either a xenophobic band or utopian philanthropists, MfD writes.
The nervousness inside political parties will definitely rise over the bill on compulsory electronic registration of sales, with which Babis has linked his political career and whose passage by parliament has been repeatedly prevented by the rightist opposition.
“If the electronic registration of sales failed to be implemented, I would step down,” MfD quotes Babis as saying.
However, neither the CSSD nor the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), the junior partner in Sobotka´s centre-left government, consider the bill as crucial as Babis does. Unlike Babis and ANO, the CSSD and the KDU-CSL have been promoting the bill in parliament only lukewarmly, the paper concludes.