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Czech News in English » Opinion » Reflex: Gov't continues despite serious rift among partners

Reflex: Gov’t continues despite serious rift among partners

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Prague, June 25 (CTK) – MPs from the Czech government parties are lashing out at each other ferociously and threaten to sink each other’s bills amid a clash between ANO head Andrej Babis and Social Democrat (CSSD) MP Ladislav Sincl, but still the cabinet is not going to fall, Bohumil Pecinka writes in weekly Reflex out Thursday.

In spite of the fierce internal conflict, the government will survive and even remain the Czech most stable government in the past 15 years, Pecinka writes.

The government, which also includes the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), would fall only if it were a decision of Babis, finance minister and agricultural, chemical and media tycoon, or if the rest of the government stood up against him, Pecinka writes.

No one is motivated to do the latter, and Babis would not dare to sink the government this year yet, Pecinka writes.

The government is stable as a result of its combined support for the interests of its two strong members, the CSSD and ANO, he writes.

Babis previously nodded to the CSSD’s plan to raise the sum redistributed via public institutions, as a result of which the CSSD could push through the abolition of patients’ regulatory health fees, a minimum wage increase, a reduction of VAT on medicines, and an increase in welfare benefits for selected groups of people. Of course, all the steps were taken at the cost of the country’s debt, Pecinka writes.

Of course, in his capacity as finance minister, Babis pretends, only verbally, to do his best to stop the CSSD from money squandering and further raising the state debt. In exchange, he may pursue his big business behind the scenes, where latent transfers of billions of crowns are made as a result of new regulatory measures that benefit his companies, Pecinka writes.

The bags and boxes with money, which symbolised the previous corruption era, have been replaced by legal financial transfers from a banking account to another, Pecinka says.

This is the consensus the present government is based on. Resting on mutual counter-services, it can be described as a combination of the big capital’s interests with the socialists for the benefit of both, Pecinka writes.

Of course, conflicts appear now and then, Pecinka writes and mentions Babis and the CSSD’s differing interests linked to the insurance bill now under discussion.

Babis sides with the insurance dealers who, motivated by huge commissions, headlessly sign life insurance contracts even with poor people who cannot afford to pay the insurance fees, Pecinka writes.

Babis’s opponent Sincl and the whole CSSD, on their part, reasonably promote the interests of the insurance companies for whom the excessive hunt for life insurance might have fatal effects reminiscent of the U.S. financial crisis of the late 2000s, Pecinka writes.

However, it is important that there have been only very few similar conflicts in the government so far, and the latest one would have gone unnoticed if it had not been for Babis behaviour to Sincl that resembled the former communist secret police’s practices, Pecinka writes.

Unlike the previous cabinets, the present one, in power since January 2014, also largely owes its firm position to the recent period of economic growth, which will raise the state revenues by 80 billion crowns compared with the previous cabinets. As a result, the government need not introduce unpopular structural reforms but it can simply pour more money into areas such as the pension and health care systems, Pecinka writes.

Above all, the coalition of the CSSD and ANO, complemented by the marginal KDU-CSL, enjoys voter support, he continues.

Unlike Babis, the CSSD and the KDU-CSL have already succeeded in pushing through the more popular parts of their respective manifestos. ANO has achieved almost nothing, but still, Babis is successful in spreading optimism and the illusion of effectiveness, and so he continues to be supported by the middle class, Pecinka writes.

From a political scientist’s point of view, such a government can never fall, he says.

The Babis phenomenon must also be taken into account. A close friend of his once said Babis’s mentality corresponds to a Moroccan market where the Arabs try to cheat each other alternately using the methods of pressure, tricks and lies, Pecinka writes.

If applied in European politics, such methods cannot but generate gradually rising opposition, he says.

Babis hopes in being protected by the media that he either owns or that side with him and that would not publish the truth about his [disputable] performance as minister, Pecinka writes.

In the next five years, Babis’s media want to invest a few billion crowns in new projects. Babis’s self-protection through his own and allied media may partially stem the growth of people’s dissatisfaction with him, Pecinka writes.

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