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Zeman recommends that ANO negotiate on new gov’t with SPD, KSČM

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Lany, Central Bohemia, April 10 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman has recommended that the election-winning ANO movement continue negotiations on a new government with Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and the Communists (KSCM), ANO leader Andrej Babis said after meeting Zeman on Tuesday.

Babis said like him, Zeman was very surprised at last week’s failure of the government-forming negotiations between ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD), which collapsed although consensus on programme had been achieved and only personnel issues remained open.

Babis said ANO will now convoke a meeting of its top bodies, i.e. the party board and committee. It might take place on Thursday.

“We will discuss on what next steps to take,” he said.

The ANO-SPD-KSCM alliance, which might rest in the SPD and the KSCM’s toleration of an ANO minority cabinet, would have 115 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.

Some representatives of ANO have reservations about ANO’s cooperation with the SPD, a far-right anti-EU movement.

For example, Dan Tok, who is transport minister in Babis’s current outgoing government of ANO, said on Monday that he would not be a part of a government if established with the SPD’s support.

The opposition has repeatedly pointed out that an ANO-SPD-KSCM alliance has actually been functioning in the Chamber of Deputies, where the two parties have helped ANO push through a number of proposals so far.

For the sake of his new cabinet’s pro-European image, Babis has so far shunned the SPD as a partner to support his minority cabinet in parliament.

Zeman is to meet KSCM chairman Vojtech Filip and SPD chairman Tomio Okamura separately on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Next week, Zeman will meet the heads of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Petr Fiala, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) Pavel Belobradek and the Pirate Party Ivan Bartos, Babis said on Tuesday.

The ANO-CSSD negotiations on a joint minority government that would be kept afloat by the KSCM lasted several weeks. Last week, however, they got bogged down on ANO’s insistence on Babis as the next prime minister and its refusal to cede the Interior Ministry to the CSSD, which said this would guarantee an independent investigation of a suspected EU subsidy fraud for which Babis has been prosecuted.

Earlier on Tuesday, Belobradek said he will propose to solve the government crisis by forming a minority government of the ODS, Pirates, the CSSD, the KDU-CSL, TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents (STAN). It would have 85 seats in parliament, seven more than the number of seats occupied by ANO, the winner of the October 2017 general election.

Leaders of the six parties, out of the lower house’s nine, are to meet on Wednesday.

Zeman assigned Babis to form a cabinet after the October elections. Babis formed a single-party minority government, which, however, lost a confidence vote in parliament in January and continues ruling pending the establishment of its successor.

Afterwards, Zeman assigned Babis to launch new government-forming talks, setting the summer as the deadline. He has not appointed Babis PM-designate for now.

Zeman has repeatedly rejected the idea of early elections, but some parties in parliament call this variant more acceptable than if Zeman decided to appoint a caretaker cabinet like after the Petr Necas (ODS) cabinet’s fall in mid-2013.

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