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HN: This summer may have been last peaceful one for gov’t

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Prague, Aug 17 (CTK) – On Thursday, the Czech government will meet after a summer holiday, which may have been the last peaceful one in the current 2013-17 election term, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes yesterday.
This is partially due to that the regional election will be held in the autumn of 2016 and all parties will want to address voters now already, HN writes.
The period following the parliament’s summer recess is traditionally more hectic than in other parts of the year. This time, ministers will have to exert great effort to push through a number of bills, HN writes.
It writes that the most complicated issue will be the bill on the electronic registration of sales that will be on the agenda of the first session of the Chamber of Deputies held after the summer recess. It will start in mid-September.
The bill that Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) considers being of key importance made it through surprisingly smoothly in the first reading before the summer recess, but the opposition warned it will apply obstructions in the second and third readings, HN writes.
“I promise you we will do everything for that it be not passed,” HN quotes opposition TOP 09 deputy group chairman Miroslav Kalousek as saying previously.
The bill overshadows other bills that the government set as its priorities when it was appointed in January 2014. These include a smoking bill and new gambling rules, HN writes.
It writes that Health Minister Svatopluk Nemecek (CSSD) will have to exert great effort to win over even his government coalition colleagues’ support for the former bill.
Some consider the proposed changes too drastic. Besides smoking in restaurants, Nemecek also wants to push through some limitations of alcohol sales, HN writes.
It writes that Nemecek has a slight advantage in that there is no big pressure for the smoking bill unlike the gambling one that should bring the Czech rules in harmony with the EU’s by the beginning of next year at the latest. In the opposite case, the Czech Republic might pay a fine of up to half a million crowns daily.
The government only approved the bill in July because Sobotka had the bill rewritten. He said Babis kowtowed to the gambling lobby too much in the bill, HN writes.
It is also to be seen how disputes within the government coalition, comprised of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), have been ironed out, HN writes.
It writes that at the end of June, relations between the CSSD and ANO worsened over a draft amendment to the insurance law.
The rivalry between the two strongest government parties is still palpable and it surfaced most recently during a debate on operating the toll system after 2016, HN writes.
At the end of July, Sobotka criticised Transport Minister Dan Tok (ANO) for that his proposal does not sufficiently deal with the extension of the toll to lower category roads, HN writes.
“Our problem is also the fact that we are partially giving up the possibility of looking for other technologies, new technologies, including a satellite system of toll collection,” Sobotka said.
Jindrich Sidlo writes elsewhere in HN that the next 30 months will be decisive from the point of view of the definitive transformation of the Czech political system and the whole society that started with the first direct presidential election in January 2013 and continued with the dramatic fall of the rightist coalition government of Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) in June of the same year, the early general election in October 2013 and the arrival of Babis at the Finance Ministry.
Sidlo writes that the end of the “old times” was the result of a combination of several factors, the most important of which was the long economic crisis that reached the country at the end of 2008 and in early 2009.
The Czechs ceased to forgive “their” politicians what they tolerated, though reluctantly, in the previous years of prosperity, Sidlo writes.
Now, the growing economy together with the ability not to fall apart every week which the current government coalition has shown to date creates a special atmosphere of general peace and government “generosity,” where Babis hands out money to ministers, particularly from his ANO movement, Sidlo writes.
This will undoubtedly continue next year, when the regional election is to be held, and in 2017, when the country will be forming its new Chamber of Deputies and make a decision on the future governrent, Sidlo writes.
Naturally, this idyl may be frustrated by external influences, he adds.

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