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ANO, ČSSD start negotiating about possible next government

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Prague, Jan 17 (CTK) – The ANO movement and the Social Democrats (CSSD) plan to keep negotiating about their programmes and possible cooperation after the general election, their leaders told journalists on Wednesday, shortly after the minority government of ANO leader Andrej Babis approved its resignation.

Babis’s government resigned because it lost the confidence vote that the lower house of parliament took in it on Tuesday.

“We have had the first serious and correct debate about the post-election arrangement,” CSSD acting head Milan Chovanec said after the talks with ANO, held three months after the general election which ANO clearly won.

Chovanec said the CSSD wants a pro-European government that would support young families and tenants. He said it is unacceptable for the party that any prosecuted politician is a member of the cabinet.

The next talks between ANO and the CSSD are likely to be held later this month. The CSSD is to send its programme priorities to ANO in writing before these talks.

Chovanec said the CSSD congress scheduled for February 18 would have to confirm a possible government alliance with ANO.

ANO deputy heads Jaroslav Faltynek and Richard Brabec said their movement would discuss the CSSD conditions on Monday.

Faltynek said ANO representatives wish Babis to remain prime minister. “We have no other option. We support our prime minister and leader,” he said.

Babis has been accused of a subsidy fraud and harming the EU’s financial interests. Czech parliament is to decide whether to release him for prosecution.

Babis’s subsidy scandal has been one of the main reasons why the other parties in the lower house refused to support or tolerate his government. The other parties also said Babis had never seriously negotiated about a coalition government but he had only offered them to accept his own conditions.

ANO has had 78 MPs in the 200-member lower house since October 2017. The Civic Democrats (ODS), who ended second in the general election, have 25 MPs. The CSSD has 15 MPs, compared to 50 in the previous election period.

Babis said previously he would prefer cooperation with his former coalition partners, the CSSD and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL). The centre-left government of former CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka ruled the country in 2013-17.

Expert teams of the two parties would negotiate about the programme. Brabec said he would head the ANO team and former foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek would head the CSSD team.

Babis said previously his government participation is a question to be answered by the whole ANO movement. He originally insisted on being prime minister, but he recently indicated that his political opponents may force him to apply the Polish model in which former prime minister Lech Kaczynski controlled the government from the background, although he considers such a model unfortunate.

The Social Democrats also demanded that ANO not be in charge of the finance, justice and interior ministries because of the Capi hnizdo EU subsidy scandal related to the billionaire Babis.

Chovanec said ANO considers a pension reform one of its programme priorities.

He noted that ANO and the CSSD would not have a majority in the lower house and support from some other party would be necessary.

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