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SPD: Talks with ANO show chance of programme compromise

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Prague, Jan 18 (CTK) – Programme compromises between the Czech Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and the ANO movement of PM Andrej Babis might be found and ANO might start promoting the political priorities the SPD has submitted to it, SPD chairman Tomio Okamura told reporters after ANO-SPD talks on Thursday.

Citing Babis, Okamura said ANO experts will analyse the demands submitted by the SPD, and afterwards, ANO may initiate a possible next meeting.

ANO deputy chairman Richard Brabec said the SPD and ANO representatives did not discuss the SPD’s possible joining or supporting a new cabinet ANO is expected to form.

“I have a feeling that ANO…is ready to discuss the promotion of our [SPD’s] election programme,” he said.

He praised the atmosphere of the talks that were held in the lower house of parliament, calling the discussion “broad and matter-of-fact.”

Brabec said ANO wants to continue its series of meetings with parties in parliament next week, when meetings with the Civic Democrats (ODS) and the Communists (KSCM) are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

For ANO, an optimal variant would be the establishment of a minority government that would be tolerated by the Chamber of Deputies.

Babis’s ANO minority government rules in resignation as it lost the lower house’s confidence vote earlier this week.

President Milos Zeman is expected to give the second try to form a new government to Babis, whose ANO comfortably won the October general election.

Brabec, the outgoing deputy PM and environment minister, said he feels respect and humbleness at being mentioned as the possible new prime minister, who might replace Babis.

Babis recently admitted he may not be the new prime minister due to the criminal prosecution he faces over a suspected EU subsidy fraud.

Brabec said all in ANO prefer a second government-forming attempt going to Babis. “There is no alternative we would be discussing now,” Brabec said, adding that the voters, too, want Babis for prime minister.

The ANO leadership may discuss the issue at its meeting on Monday, Brabec added.

SPD representatives came up with the SPD’s 34 key programme goals, 22 of which they consider priorities, including a pension reform, lifting of e-registration of sales duty from small tradespeople, material accountability of politicians, a bill enabling to stage a referendum on the country’s withdrawal from the EU, a ban on the promotion of hate ideologies and nationalisation of distrainers’ offices.

“First, we want ANO to tell us their position on the above programme goals. Only afterwards we can strike compromises in a way to meet the wish of a crushing majority of our voters, of all, if possible,” Okamura said.

On Wednesday, the Babis government took an accommodating approach to the SPD when it did not reject two its draft amendments, including a constitutional amendment introducing a general referendum, though the Government Legislative Council was opposed to it.

Okamura previously said the SPD would not form a government with a prosecuted prime minister at its head. He alluded to the suspected subsidy fraud over which Babis faces criminal proceedings.

Okamura also criticised several ministers in Babis’s current outgoing cabinet.

ANO has 78 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies. The SPD has 22 seats.

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