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ODS, KDU, STAN, TOP ally ahead of first lower house session

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Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) – Czech ODS, TOP 09, KDU-CSL and STAN parties have formed a Democratic Bloc alliance for acting jointly at the Chamber of Deputies’ constituent session, they said on Wednesday, adding that they will not back ANO’s nominee for lower house chairman and want two seats of deputy chairpersons.

The bloc, comprised of rightist or centrist parties, the Civic Democrats (ODS), TOP 09, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Mayors and Independents (STAN), also wants posts of chairpersons of seven lower house committees, their leaders told journalists.

It will not back the election-winning ANO’s candidate Radek Vondracek for the Chamber of Deputies chairman, but ODS chairman Petr Fiala will not be running for the post, as opposed to his previous plan.

Fiala said the four parties have together 48 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, and they represent more than 27 percent of the people who voted in the October 20-21 general election.

STAN deputies’ group chairman Jan Farsky said participation in the bloc had also been offered to the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Pirates. If joined by the two parties, the bloc would command 85 votes.

Fiala, whose ODS ended second in the elections, said his candidacy for lower house head is pointless now that agreement on support for Vondracek has been struck between ANO, the Communists (KSCM) and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement. Fiala said he would not like to “assist” the three by his own candidacy.

“I never meant my candidacy as a struggle for the post, but as a safeguard of parliamentary democracy,” he added.

Praising Fiala’s decision, TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek said it will help make it clear which parties will support the implementation of the project President Milos Zeman has prepared together with ANO chairman Andrej Babis.

Kalousek alluded to the nascent minority government of Babis and to Zeman’s statement that he would even give Babis a possible second try to form a government, if the first try failed, and would never admit an early election.

This may result in a long-lasting rule of Babis’s one-colour minority cabinet without lawmakers’ confidence.

ANO has 78 seats in the lower house and the KSCM, the only party that is now willing to support an ANO minority government under certain circumstances, has 15 seats.

Fiala criticised ANO for acting non-transparently and in a misleading way when negotiating with other parties.

“To face [ANO’s] opaque tactics and behind-the-scene intrigues, our four parties have agreed to proceed jointly, and we will ask ANO for joint negotiations,” Fiala said.

The parties formed the Democratic Bloc to act jointly at the lower house constituent session starting on November 20 and at also its following sessions.

Their deputies’ groups have pledged to act unitedly and submit joint lists of candidates to lower house committees based on parties’ proportional representation in the Chamber.

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