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LN: Six scenarios may follow PM’s resignation offer

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Prague, May 3 (CTK) – Six different scenarios may follow Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka’s decision to hand in his cabinet’s resignation, and President Milos Zeman plays a key role in all except the early election scenario that would require the Chamber of Deputies’ self-dissolution, Martin Shabu writes in Lidove noviny (LN) on Wednesday.

He reacts to the announcement Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) made on Tuesday, citing the dubious business deals of Finance Minister and ANO movement leader Andrej Babis.

The first scenario, also mentioned by Sobotka, means the continuation of a cabinet of the current partners, i.e. the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), but without Babis among the ministers or in the post of finance minister at least, Shabu writes.

Within this scenario, a new prime minister, either Sobotka or someone else, would have to ask Zeman to assign him to form a new cabinet. Zeman previously showed that he may decline such a request. In 2013, Miroslava Nemcova (Civic Democrats, ODS) wanted to form a cabinet identical with the collapsed cabinet of Petr Necas (ODS), but Zeman preferred to appoint a caretaker cabinet of unaffiliated experts, Shabu writes.

The second possible scenario is Zeman’s decision to appoint a caretaker cabinet “of his own” or a semi-caretaker cabinet partly filled by his nominees and partly by people nominated by the parties that would help the cabinet win the Chamber of Deputies’ confidence.

In an extreme case, a Zeman-completed apolitical caretaker cabinet could do without the lawmakers’ vote of confidence. This happened once in mid-2013, when Zeman chose Jiri Rusnok for PM instead of appointing Nemcova whose cabinet would have enjoyed a majority support in parliament, Shabu writes.

Rusnok formed a caretaker cabinet of unaffiliated experts, who, however, did not remain unaffiliated for long. A large part of them ran for the pro-Zeman SPOZ party in the October 2013 general election. Rusnok’s cabinet failed to win the lower house’s confidence, but still it remained in power for another seven months, Shabu writes.

According to the third possible scenario, Zeman would prefer not accepting the Sobotka government’s resignation and recommend that Sobotka himself find a replacement of Babis as a minister. The fact that the regular general election is scheduled for October 20-21 would play into Zeman’s hands, especially in a situation where he would stage a series of separate meetings with all candidates for ministers. This scenario is far from improbable also because it would mean a burden for Sobotka, whom Zeman resents, Shabu writes.

Under the fourth scenario, the current team would rule as an outgoing government until the end of its term, which is what Babis would prefer and which may easily happen. To achieve this, Zeman would accept the cabinet’s resignation but then he would meet all ministers and parties’ leaders one after another to discuss the situation. The talks would be long enough to make the formation of a new cabinet useless shortly before the October elections, Shabu writes.

The fifth scenario, an early general election, would require the Chamber of Deputies’ decision to dissolve itself by the votes of at least 120 of its 200 members. If so, a general election would have to be held in two months. At the same time, the law prevents the Chamber of Deputies’ own dissolution less than three months before the regular election, Shabu writes.

By dissolving the Chamber, the lawmakers would strip themselves of numerous advantages and perks linked to their mandate. In addition, voters could dislike the step being taken a few months before the election. For the time being, the only party to have supported this scenario is the rightist opposition ODS, Shabu writes.

The last and the least probable scenario is the emergence of an “anti-Babis coalition. Parties across the political spectrum may agree on forming a coalition against Babis. Recently, such a majority of lawmakers pushed through the lower house’s resolution asking Babis to explain his suspicious purchase of untaxed one-crown bonds from his Agrofert Holding, Shabu writes.

However, it needs courage for the opposition parties to leave their comfortable position and accept responsibility for the governance in the last months before the election, Shabu writes.

It is not sure whether Babis’s foes from different parts of the political spectrum would gather enough votes to support a new prime minister. In addition, the solution would also have to be accepted by Zeman, Shabu writes.

Moreover, this solution would enable Babis to score election points by complaining about the mainstream parties’ tendency to ally against him, Shabu writes.

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