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ČSSD should not send MPs to government, says chairman

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Prague, March 18 (CTK) – Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) chairman Jan Hamacek would welcome if his party members who are not deputies to the lower house joined a new government with ANO, he said in the Duel TV debate on Sunday.

He refused to speak about the posts that his CSSD would like to fill in the minority cabinet with ANO, supported by the Communists (KSCM). However, the Defence Ministry is not the sector where the CSSD could push through its programme, he said on Prima TV.

Hamacek said on Friday that he would consider it dignified for the CSSD to fill five ministerial seats, including heads of the power sectors.

He said the CSSD should seek ministries that were linked to its programme priorities and also those at which the ANO movement faced a conflict of interest. The Social Democrat MPs previously mentioned the Justice Ministry and the Interior Ministry over the criminal prosecution of PM and ANO chairman Andrej Babis on suspicion of an EU subsidy fraud.

Some ANO leadership members said on Saturday they would be willing to give the CSSD maximally four ministries, including one of the power sectors, such as the Defence Ministry.

Babis’s minority government lost a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, in January and resigned, but it continues ruling pending the establishment of Babis’s new cabinet. President Milos Zeman assigned Babis with the second try to form a government.

The ANO deputy group agreed on Saturday to lead talks with the Social Democrats on a joint minority cabinet, supported by the Communists.

Hamacek will meet the ANO leadership on Wednesday. They will primarily deal with programme issues at present, he added.

The CSSD is split in the view whether the party should send deputies or experts to Babis’s government.

Hamacek said the ministers should be the Social Democrats, but not necessarily members of the Chamber of Deputies.

Asked whether he would sit in such a government, Hamacek said this would be subject to negotiations.

“I am naturally negotiating on behalf of the CSSD, not for myself or (first deputy head) Jiri Zimola. We will see how we will agree. I have been preoccupied with foreign security politics the whole life, so I feel strong in this agenda,” he pointed out.

Hamacek also said the CSSD could hardly push through its programme at the Defence Ministry.

It was headed by Martin Stropnicky in the previous term who was replaced by Karla Slechtova (both ANO).

ANO’s performance in the defence sector was poor and now it might like to solve the personnel misery by giving the ministry to the CSSD, Hamacek said. “However, our task is not to solve ANO’s personnel problems, we want to push through our programme, which is not likely to be possible at the Defence Ministry,” he said.

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