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Pirates, ČSSD not part of opposition bloc in parliament

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Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) – Neither the Czech Pirates nor the Social Democrats (CSSD) will join the Democratic Bloc that four rightist and centrist parties founded on Wednesday to act jointly in the new lower house, the Pirates and the CSSD have told media, each presenting its own reasons for shunning the project.

The Pirates will not join the bloc because a condition is that the members do not support ANO’s Radek Vondracek for lower house head as the house’s upcoming constituent session, while the Pirates plan to back him, their chairman Ivan Bartos said on Wednesday.

He told reporters that the opposition forces are splitting, unfortunately.

The Social Democrats said they want to proceed independently in the Chamber of Deputies.

The CSSD is declining the invitation to join the bloc, CSSD acting chairman Milan Chovanec said.

Bartos said the Pirates recently promoted an agreement on all posts of the new lower house committees’ chairpersons being filled by the opposition, as a step to face the nascent one-party minority government of Andrej Babis, whose ANO movement won the October 20-21 general election.

Bartos said the Pirates’ proposal which other parties dismissed earlier this week was “tougher” [in relation to ANO] than the new bloc’s plan not to support Vondracek.

“Unfortunately, our proposal was not accepted, and [the opposition] is getting fragmented,” Bartos said.

He said by supporting Vondracek, the Pirates want to help constitute Chamber of Deputies quickly so that it can start operation and possibly also take a vote on releasing Babis and ANO deputies’ group head Jaroslav Faltynek for criminal prosecution.

Babis, a billionaire, and Faltynek, his close aide, are suspected of an EU subsidy fraud.

Bartos said the Democratic Bloc has adopted some of the Pirates’ proposals for its own, but it does not have enough votes to push them through. As a result, it might become a mere empty gesture.

“It is a gesture rather than constructive proposal that could move the negotiations [on the lower house’s lineup] forwards,” Bartos said.

He dismissed speculations about the Pirates planning to form a latent coalition with ANO, the Communists (KSCM) and the Freedom and Direct Democracy Movement (SPD).

The establishment of the Democratic Bloc for a joint action in parliament was announced by the Civic Democrats (ODS), TOP 09, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Mayors and Independents (STAN). It has 48 seats in the 200-seat parliament.

Its representatives told CTK earlier on Wednesday that they had invited the Pirates and the CSSD to join the bloc. Together with the two parties, it would have commanded 85 votes in the lower house.

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