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Sobotka: ČSSD will hold programme conference in June

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Prague, March 12 (CTK) – The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) will hold a programme conference in June, at which they will present 14 leaders for the October general election, Prime Minister and party head Bohuslav Sobotka said after a lunch of the new CSSD leadership elected at a congress on Friday.

The party deputy chairpersons divided their powers at the lunch.

Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, who was re-elected party deputy chairman, will continue to be in charge of programme matters.

The party will now start working on the programme. It also wants to involve the public in its preparation.

Zaoralek said the programme will focus on finding a way of supporting people who work well and have ideas, of boosting qualification.

Another point is support for a socially cohesive society and the third sphere will focus on the cultivation of the national capital and the strengthening of national culture.

Chamber of Deputies chairman Jan Hamacek, who was also re-elected, will be in charge of foreign relations.

The new party deputy chairman, lawmaker Jan Birke, who was appointed the party’s election manager still before the congress, will be responsible for the elections. Besides he was tasked with contacts with the trade unions.

Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova, also re-elected CSSD deputy chairwoman, will supervise specialist commissions.

Petr Dolinek, deputy mayor of Prague, a new party deputy chairman, will be responsible for securing support for CSSD mayors and town and villages’ assembly members.

Sobotka said in March and April the party will discuss election leaders and lists of candidates in individual regions.

He said the 14 regional leaders should be visible, strong and respected personalities.

Sobotka said the immediate task of the party is narrowing the gap between voter preferences for the CSSD and the ANO movement of Deputy Prime Minister Andrej Babis and raising public support for the party.

According to an election model by Kantar TNS agency for Czech Television (CT) released on Sunday, ANO would now win a general election with 32 percent, followed by the CSSD with 15 percent.

Sobotka said the CSSD does not rule out a post-election coalition which would have the same composition as the current one, but it would want to have the decisive say in it so that it could influence its programme.

The incumbent government coalition is comprised of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).

At the press conference, the CSSD leadership dismissed the ANO proposal to reduce the number of lawmakers.

Sobotka said this would mean a weaker opposition and consequently a weaker control of the government.

Hamacek said similar proposals are basedcon very different systems. Zaoralek dismissed them as populistic.

Turning to the possibility of reducing the number of ministries, Marksova said she cannot imagine which ones could be merged with the aim of operating better.

On the contrary, she said she dreams of her ministry of labour and social affairs being divided into two because of its size.

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