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TOP 09 wants next gov’t to promote democracy, rule of law

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Prague, Oct 13 (CTK) – The next Czech government arising from the elections should defend parliamentary democracy and the rule of law, right-wing TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek has told CTK, adding that his party rejects cooperation with the Communists (KSCM) and ANO movement that promote a far more autocratic rule.

ANO leader Andrej Babis is suspected of misuse of European subsidies and he was an informer of the Czechoslovak communist secret police StB, Kalousek said, referring to the fact that the Czech police recently charged Babis with fraud and harming EU financial interests and Slovak courts have been dealing with the listing of Babis among StB agents.

He said even if Babis had no such controversial past, the politics he applies would gradually deprive people of their freedoms. “We would become scared employees of some holding who cannot be sure of what those in power are going to do with them tomorrow,” he said.

Billionaire Babis is the sole owner of the huge Agrofert holding. ANO is the clear favourite of the general election that will be held on October 20-21.

If Babis becomes prime minister, the freedoms gained after the fall of the country’s communist regime in 1989 will be threatened, Kalousek said. Moreover, Babis’s stained reputation would mean big problems in international talks, he said.

To avoid this, TOP 09 would be ready to negotiate with leftist democratic parties about a coalition government.

“Of course, the programme compromises would have to be great,” Kalousek said. The compromises would correspond to the political strength the party would receive from voters, he added.

The latest opinion polls showed that TOP 09 may not cross the 5-percent threshold to enter parliament. In the previous general election, the party won 12 percent of the vote. Kalousek said TOP 09 wants to get at least 10 percent in the forthcoming one.

He said the formation of a democratic pro-Western government seemed to him even more important than the election result.

The outgoing centre-left government of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) failed to push through or even propose the health insurance, pension and education reforms that are vital for the country, Kalousek said.

Some laws that Sobotka’s government passed limit human freedom and need to be abolished, such as the electronic registration of sales, ledger statements and many central registers. The running costs of the state need to be cut and investments reinforced, he pointed out.

Kalousek said the classical conflict between the left and the right with their opposing stances on redistribution and regulation disappeared from the election campaign. The campaign is now accompanied by much stronger pressures, which is logical as one of the competing parties is a corporation with unlimited sources that may effectively exert pressure on many institutions outside the official election account, he added.

Under new rules, each political party must have a transparent election account and its spending on the election campaign must not exceed 90 million crowns.

TOP 09 is to spend approximately 70 million crowns on its campaign, Kalousek said.

He said Babis and President Milos Zeman recently challenged the sanctions imposed on Russia over its annexation of the Crimean peninsula that is part of the Ukrainian territory. One can hardly doubt that the attitude of Zeman and Babis to the Russian imperial power is accommodating, he said.

Babis told Czech daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) last week that the sanctions did not force Russia to give up Crimea. Zeman told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Tuesday that the annexation of Crimea seems to him irreversible and that the sanctions are not working.

Kalousek said the Czech election campaign is influenced by the activities of the Russian intelligence and its propaganda. The influence of the Russian propaganda can be seen in whole society because Russian intelligence has a lot of Czech helpers at the Presidential Office, in the government, parliament, the media and civic associations, he said.

Russian secret services were active in all EU countries and possibly even in the USA, he said. “They are even more active in the countries which they keep considering Russia’s satellites and in which they want to maintain their influence or regain it,” Kalousek said.

He said it is an open secret that the Russians supported far-right Marine Le Pen in the campaign before the French presidential election and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) before the recent German general election.

“There is no doubt about which groupings they support here because Russia logically does not want to have a strong Europe beyond its border, which I can understand, which means that they will be happy to support groupings that would do their utmost to disintegrate Europe and paralyse its readiness for action,” Kalousek said.

He said the next government should set the date for the country’s adoption of the euro. If the Czech Republic wants to be in the EU hard core, which would give it much more guarantees and opportunities, it should introduce the euro, he said.

Interconnection with the euro zone would be an advantage since the Czech economy is based on exports, Kalousek added.

Opinion polls showed that people in the Czech Republic are against euro adoption. Many Czech parties criticise Brussels and the euro and promote the country’s sovereign decision-making.

Kalousek rejected the view that euro is a failed project, which former Czech president Vaclav Klaus claims. “Despite big problems, the euro zone is… the biggest exporter and importer in the world,” Kalousek said.

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