Prague, May 9 (CTK) – A survey of major events of the Czech government crisis since May 2 when Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) announced that he would offer resignation.
– PM Sobotka announces that he will offer the resignation of the whole government by the end of the week because of dubious business transactions and property situation of Finance Minister and Deputy PM Andrej Babis (ANO). Sobotka said if he dismissed Babis as minister, it would enable Babis to play “a martyr’s role.” He also said he would not rule out an early election.
– Babis says the best solution would be if the government completed its mandate in resignation until the regular general election due on October 20-21.
– Deputy PM and Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek says the Christian Democrats would consider the calling of an early election a clumsy solution.
– President Milos Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek announces that Sobotka will tender the resignation to Zeman at Prague Castle, the presidential seat, in the afternoon on May 4.
– Zeman meets Babis. He told Zeman that ANO disagreed with the cabinet’s resignation. Babis also said Zeman would accept the government resignation.
– Zeman meets CSSD first deputy chairman and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec. Chovanec said then neither the CSSD nor Zeman want a caretaker government and that Sobotka does not insist on his PM’s post if this were an obstacle to form a new government.
– The CSSD leadership announces it insist that Babis cannot be in the next government if it were formed by the current coalition of the CSSD, ANO and KDU-CSL. The CSSD prefers this coalition to continue.
– The second audio recording of a conversation between Babis and Marek Pribil, reporter of daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), owned by Babis’s concern in the past, appears on the Internet. The first was posted on May 1. In the first conversation, Babis spoke in an insulting way about the government members including Sobotka, while in the second, he spoke about the release of compromising materials. The recording stirred up a wave of sharp criticism of Babis’s behaviour. Sobotka said the recordings proved that Babis lied in public saying he did not influence his media outlets. Sobotka later mentioned the recordings among the reasons for Babis’s departure from the government. Babis called the recordings manipulated and a part of a campaign against him. On Sunday, he wrote on the Internet that he had made a mistake by meeting the reporter and that this was a provocation organised beforehand.
– Sobotka announces in the afternoon that he will ask for a date in mid-May at Prague Castle to formally offer the resignation to Zeman. He wanted to get Zeman acquainted with the plan to solve the crisis soon and the analysis questioning some business steps by Babis in the afternoon.
– Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek says he or Interior Minister Milan Chovanec are the most probable candidates for a new Czech PM, according to Sobotka if Zeman gives the CSSD a chance to form a new cabinet.
– Zeman meets Belobradek. They agreed they want neither a caretaker government nor an early election.
– Participants in a meeting of the parties’ chairmen with Chamber of Deputies head Jan Hamacek (CSSD) indicate that the government coalition parties do not want an early election. Part of the opposition supported them over the government crisis.
– A serious conflict accompanies the beginning of the Sobotka-Zeman meeting. Sobotka came to Zeman’s office without the resignation, but Zeman has the hall prepared as if he brought it. When Sobotka was speaking, Zeman demonstratively left.
– Zeman says the current government coalition should govern until the October general election and that the only one who should leave is Sobotka. A CSSD politician should lead the reshuffled government, Zeman said, mentioning Zaoralek and Chovanec. Zeman did not rule out that he might appoint Belobradek as PM if the Social Democrats rejected his offer.
– The ANO leadership announces that it supports Babis and cannot see any reason why he should leave the post of finance minister.
– Sobotka says he will not offer the resignation since Zeman has interpreted the constitution in the way that only he, the prime minister, should leave the government. This will not resolve the cause of the government crisis, which are Babis’s scandals, Sobotka said. This is why he sent a proposal to dismiss Babis to Zeman.
– The Presidential Office questions Sobotka’s request for Babis’s dismissal and says Zeman plans to make a decision after his return form China, that si after May 18.
– ANO first deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltynek says ANO ministers should stay in the government even if Zeman dismissed Babis.
– A group of 27 out of the 81 senators issue a statement in which they criticise Zeman for disrespecting the constitution during the government crisis.
– Sobotka accuses Babis of forming a “power pact” with Zeman. Babis said Sobotka had a pact with rightist opposition TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek and that he violated the coalition agreement.
– Sobotka accuses Zeman of abandoning a non-partisan approach and siding with the ANO movement.
– Babis does not turn up at a debate of the parliamentary parties’ leaders broadcast by Czech Television (CT). He said on Facebook that five leaders of the parties in parliament and a TV moderator would be against him. He wrote he would not cling to his ministerial post, but would not give up his struggle against his political opponents. Sobotka called Babis’s absence cowardice.
– The third audio recording with Babis released on the Internet, probably from his meeting with journalist Pribil handing him documents for police investigation. Babis said the recordings were edited and that he became a victim of provocation.
– Zeman says he will get involved in the situation concerning the proposal for Babis’s dismissal after his return from China. Sobotka proposed the dismissal as of May 9.
– Zeman says after a meeting with Babis that the proposal is at variance with the government coalition agreement, which is why the agreement must be abrogated for the dismissal to be feasible, Ovcacek said. Zeman also criticised the fact that he had not received a proposal for Babis’s successor. Sobotka called on Zeman to respect the constitution.
– CSSD ministers Zaoralek (foreign affairs), Chovanec (interior) and Miloslav Ludvik (health) announce they would not join Zeman during official visit to China (May 11-18).
– The KDU-CSL calls on Zeman to cancel his trip to China due to the government crisis.
– Education Minister Katerina Valachova (CSSD) says she will offer her resignation as of May 31 because of a scandal with sport subsidies, which her ministry distributed. She said she does not want to give Babis a pretext to divert attention from his serious problems.
– Senate chairman Milan Stech (CSSD) announced that Zeman’s critics in the Senate would initiate a discussion about the filing of a constitutional complaint against President Zeman in the Senate on May 16 unless Zeman dismisses Babis from the government by then.