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Zeman not to let Babiš be blackmailed over deputies’ support

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Lany, Central Bohemia, Nov 15 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman does not ask ANO leader Andrej Babis to deliver 101 MEPs signatures in support of his cabinet so that nobody could blackmail Babis when composing the cabinet, TOP 09 Chairman Miroslav Kalousek told journalists after meeting the president on Wednesday.

TOP 09 previously criticised Zeman for his steps as he did request the deputies’ signatures from the current PM Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) four years ago and from Miroslava Nemcova (Civic Democrats, ODS) in the summer of 2013 when composing the cabinet anew, following the resignation of Petr Necas (ODS).

“He explained to us that he decided in this way so that Babis could not be blackmailed by anyone when composing the cabinet. I have to admit that, although I acknowledge this standpoint with respect, I don’t understand it. [According to Zeman] this means that Sobotka and Nemcova could be blackmailed, while Babis cannot,” Kalousek said.

He said he expected Zeman would not ask Babis for the signatures in the case of a second attempt to form the cabinet either.

During their meeting with Zeman, Kalousek and Marek Zenisek, TOP 09 first deputy chairman, also denied their party would have any intention to block the constituting meeting of the General Assembly by long speeches.

Kalousek said he only wanted the majority supporting the ANO cabinet to be clearly demonstrated, which could be done by revealing those who would vote for Radek Vondracek (ANO) as the Chamber of Deputies chairman.

Kalousek also informed Zeman of the formation of a Democratic Bloc by the ODS, Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), TOP 09 and Mayors and Independents (STAN) deputies. The bloc intends to proceed jointly in the vote for the Chamber of Deputies chairman.

“We will take the poll tickets, but we will not return them, so that it is clear who forms the governmental majority which wants to support Babis’s cabinet, even without confidence and without control,” he said.

Babis was nominated by Zeman to lead talks on the new cabinet two weeks ago. Babis said he wants to set up a minority cabinet of ANO complemented by independents.

So far, only the Communists (KSCM) have said they could tolerate such a cabinet under certain conditions. ANO and KSCM only have 93 deputies in the lower house of 200 members.

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