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SPD movement is ready to talk with Babiš about coalition gov’t

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Prague, Jan 16 (CTK) – The Czech Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement is ready to negotiate about the programme, ministries and a ruling coalition within the second attempt to form a government, SPD deputy head Radim Fiala said after ANO’s minority cabinet lost the confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday.

“We have been saying for a long time that we will not support this government,” Fiala said.

All the 78 MPs of the ANO movement supported the minority government of ANO leader Andrej Babis, but all the other eight parties in the lower house of parliament voted against it. The government must submit its resignation now, but will keep ruling the Czech Republic until the appointment of a new cabinet.

Radim Fiala said the programme of Babis’s cabinet included some priority of each of the other parties, which is a bad concept. This project was bound to fail, he added.

As ANO did not consult the programme with the SPD, no compromise could have been reached, Fiala said.

He said the SPD is ready to listen to ANO’s programme priorities and negotiate with ANO about ministries and a coalition government.

Communist (KSCM) leader Vojtech Filip said the result of the confidence vote was expected.

Filip said he expected President Milos Zeman to appoint a new prime minister even if Zeman does not defend his post of president.

He said he can see no reason why Zeman should not appoint Babis as prime minister again if Babis presents him the signatures of 101 MPs supporting his next government.

On Saturday, Zeman advanced to the second round of the presidential election together with academic Jiri Drahos. The runoff will be held on January 26-27. Zeman’s current mandate will expire in March.

The Social Democrats (CSSD) also said they were ready to negotiate with ANO about the future government provided that ANO took a lesson from the past three months.

CSSD lower house group’s head Jan Chvojka said the CSSD would join the government under a few conditions. First, none of the ministers would be criminally prosecuted, and second, ANO would not be in charge of the finance, justice and interior ministries because of the investigation of the Capi hnizdo subsidy fraud case, Chvojka said.

Babis and ANO deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltynek have been accused of an EU subsidy fraud and the lower house of parliament is to decide whether to meet the police request and release them for criminal prosecution.

Last week, Babis said his opponents were forcing him to apply the Polish model, in which the government of the Law and Justice (PiS) was controlled from the backstage by Jaroslaw Kaczynski. He said he did not consider this model good.

The ANO movement of billionaire Babis clearly won the autumn general election (78 MPs), being followed by the right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS;25 MPs), the Pirates (22 MPs), the right-wing populist SPD (22 MPs), the KSCM (15 MPs), the CSSD (15 MPs), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL;10 MPs), the right-wing TOP 09 (7 MPs) and the centrist Mayors and Independents (STAN; 6 MPs).

Following the election, Babis said he preferred an alliance with the CSSD and the KDU-CSL and rejected the idea of ruling with the KSCM and the SPD, which the democratic parties label extremist. Babis insisted on being prime minister despite his EU subsidy scandal, which he claims was fabricated by his opponents. In key parliamentary votes late last year, ANO joined forces with the KSCM and the SPD to achieve a majority.

The SPD said already last year it was willing to negotiate with ANO about an alliance. SPD leader Tomio Okamura said then Babis did not make any serious offer to him.

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