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ČSSD congress approves end of talks with ANO

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Hradec Kralove, East Bohemia, April 7 (CTK) – The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) approved the leadership’s decision to end talks about a possible government with the ANO movement of Andrej Babis at their congress on Saturday at which 277 delegates supported it, 20 voted against and 17 abstained from the vote.

On Thursday night, CSSD chairman Jan Hamacek and first deputy chairman Jiri Zimola announced that they ended the talks with ANO because Babis was unwilling to make any concession in personnel issues. The CSSD wanted the post of interior minister to guarantee that Babis, who faces prosecution over a suspected EU subsidy fraud, would not influence his criminal case.

On Friday, the CSSD broad leadership confirmed that the talks with ANO ended.

The CSSD congress started in February when it elected Hamacek and Zimola the party’s new leaders. The congress assigned them with leading talks about possible government cooperation with ANO and postponed the rest of its programme, including the election of the regular deputy heads, for April 7. Originally, the congress and a CSSD internal referendum was to vote on the cooperation with ANO.

Former labour minister Michaela Marksova, who left the post of CSSD deputy chairwoman in February, was one of the few who considered the offer ANO made to the CSSD generous. She said she would prefer it if the CSSD was part of the government.

ANO has 78 MPs and the CSSD 15 MPs in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies. ANO offered five ministers in the 15-member cabinet to the Social Democrats.

Former foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek, who also was the party’s deputy head until recently, said the CSSD should not negotiate with ANO anymore because Babis humiliated it.

The sunny weather made the faces of the CSSD politicians look more happier in the afternoon, also because the meeting was not so formal anymore and they could move from the corridors to the yard of the building.

The congress rejected the proposal to cancel the quota for women represented in some bodies of the party and in its lists of election candidates (40 percent), though a majority of the delegates supported it because not enough of them took part in the vote.

The congress agreed on the introduction of online voting and it cancelled the rule that regional branches have the final say on the lists of candidates.

Some of the delegates criticised the fact that a high number of their colleagues was absent and so nearly all of the proposals for changes failed.

Hamacek said teams focusing on the preparation for the autumn local and Senate elections would start working after the congress. “The party will be united in the elections,” he said.

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