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Referendum law is condition for KSČM to back minority gov’t

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Prague, Nov 7 (CTK) – The promotion of a general referendum law, a rise in the minimum wage and the protection of natural resources are conditions for the Czech Communists (KSCM) to back the nascent minority cabinet of Andrej Babis (ANO), KSCM head Vojtech Filip said after meeting President Milos Zeman on Tuesday.

He told reporters that the KSCM has set seven conditions for the new government’s programme.

To possibly gain the opposition KSCM’s support, the new government must be pushing through a law on general referendum, launch a four-year programme of raising the minimum wage and protect the country’s natural resources, also by transferring water resources to the ownership of the state, regions and municipalities, Filip said.

“If someone recently asserted that lithium will cease to be an issue after the elections, I guarantee that it will not,” Filip said, alluding to the parties’ dispute about a controversial lithium mining deal the outgoing industry minister signed before the October 20-21 general election.

The KSCM’s remaining four conditions are “not insurmoutable” and they are subject to negotiations, Filip said.

He said Zeman did not urge him to withdraw any of the conditions.

On the contrary, Zeman promised that he would not massively interfere with the search for lawmakers’ confidence by the new government that is to comprise ministers from the election-winning ANO and unaffiliated experts, Filip said.

“I told him I knew him too long to know that he is going to interfere with it,” Filip added.

He estimated that Babis might ask for the Chamber of Deputies’ vote of confidence by Christmas.

ANO has 78 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies. The KSCM has 15 seats.

If backed by ANO and the KSCM, ANO’s minority government would need eight more votes from another party or parties to win the Chamber’s confidence.

The Zeman-Filip meeting also touched on the personnel filling of lower house committees.

The KSCM repeated that it supports ANO candidate Radek Vondracek for the post of Chamber of Deputies chairman.

Zeman has been gradually meeting representatives of all parties in parliament. Last week, he negotiated with ANO, the Civic Democrats (ODS) and the Pirates. On Monday, he met leaders of the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement.

The remaining four meetings are scheduled for next week. In the meantime, Zeman will pay a three-day visit to the Olomouc Region.

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