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TOP 09 suggests way to thwart birth of Babiš’ minority gov’t

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Prague, Oct 31 (CTK) – The only way to prevent the birth of a Czech minority cabinet of ANO leader Andrej Babis is the Chamber of Deputies’ failure to elect its chairperson, rightist TOP 09 head Miroslav Kalousek said on Tuesday, adding that he will propose this to other parties within the ongoing post-election talks.

Babis says his election-winning ANO movement is ready to form a minority government. The idea is supported by President Milos Zeman, who previously pledged to appoint Babis prime minister-designate.

Talking to journalists after a meeting of the TOP 09 leadership, Kalousek said TOP 09 fears that a minority government of ANO could rule the country for a long time without gaining the lower house’s confidence, which would border on despotism.

The lower house’s constituent session cannot end without having elected the house’s chairperson. Only after the chairperson is elected, the outgoing cabinet of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) can resign and President Zeman can appoint a new cabinet, Kalousek said.

He said the constituent session should not [be allowed to] end until Babis returned the assignment for negotiating about a new government that Zeman was expected to give to him on Tuesday or until he proposed another form of governance.

“We are going to negotiate with all political parties, which say they do not wish a one-colour minority cabinet of Andrej Babis,” said Kalousek, Babis’s arch opponent whose party suffered a defeat in the recent general election.

The Chamber of Deputies’ constituent session is to start on November 20.

Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek reacted to TOP 09’s plan with scepticism yesterday.

He said similar “juggling” is possible, but if ANO, the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement and the Pirates showed readiness to proceed jointly, the constituting of the lower house bodies, including the choice of a chairperson, cannot be prevented.

The KDU-CSL would prefer Babis forming a majority government, Belobradek said, but repeated that his party would not support a government headed by a prosecuted person.

Babis faces criminal prosecution for a suspected subsidy fraud harming the EU’s interests.

The Social Democrats (CSSD) refuse the blocking of the constituent session of the Chamber of Deputies, the party’s acting leader, Milan Chovanec, said.

Chovanec clearly dismissed Kalousek’s idea.

“It is necessary for us not to block the constituent session. I do not think anyone would like to see this,” Chovanec said.

Out of the nine parties that entered the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies last month, ANO has 78 seats, the Civic Democrats (ODS) 25 seats, the Pirates and the SPD 22 each, the Communists (KSCM) and the CSSD 15 each, the KDU-CSL 10, TOP 09 seven and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) six seats.

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