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Czech parties divided over Sobotka’s resignation as party leader

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Prague, June 14 (CTK) – This was a cowardly and desperate act, Andrej Babis, leader of ANO, a member of the coalition cabinet, said in reaction to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka resigning as Social Democrat leader, while Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) leader Pavel Belobradek said Sobotka had taken a strong step he appreciated.

Sobotka said earlier on Wednesday due to the party’s falling preferences before the October general election, he would resign.

Instead of him, the post of Social Democrat leader will go to Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, while the post of election leader to Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek.

Babis said Sobotka was a coward who was leaving the sinking ship in order to save his own skin.

Babis said Sobotka was afraid of a direct confrontation before the election.

Belobradek said he praised Sobotka’s decision.

“Bohuslav Sobotka has taken a strong step. I highly esteem him and I keep my fingers crossed for him in his public and persona life,” he added.

He said Sobotka should be esteemed for being the longest serving prime minister over the past 15 years.

“At first, the Social Democrats wanted to shed the responsibility for Babis [former finance minister, sacked in May] being in the government, now they want to shed responsibility for themselves,” Petr Fiala, leader of the opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS), said.

“The CSSD is coming up with desperate tricks, but it will be one and the same CSSD. It will be unable to cover up one thing: this government was much less successful than it has managed to claim and hard-working people have had much less from the economic growth than they deserve,” Fiala said.

The first deputy chairman of the conservative opposition TOP 09, Marek Zenisek, said the changes in the CSSD would only be evaluated by voters.

“I am just wondering that they call it a change. All the three are the main CSSD faces,” Zenisek said.

Communist leader Vojtech Filip said the CSSD was underestimating the citizens of the Czech Republic when thinking that Sobotka did not suit the party as its leader, but they had to make do with him being the prime minister.

Presidential candidate Jiri Drahos spoke highly of Sobotka.

“In my view, Sobotka is an outstanding personality of the politics of the past years,” Drahos said.

“He deserves recognition especially for his advocating the constitutional rules and representational democracy,” he added.

Desperate people make desperate things, Miroslav Kalousek, leader of the opposition TOP 09, said.

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