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Analysts: Fatigue, failure are behind Sobotka’s departure

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Prague, March 22 (CTK) – Exhaustion from politics, failures in the past months and reluctance to support a government of the Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO may be behind the decision of former prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) to resign as a member of the Chamber of Deputies, analysts told CTK on Thursday.

The analysts stressed that after former Vaclav Klaus and Milos Zeman, Sobotka was the third prime minister whose government stayed in power till the end of its term of office.

Sobotka said he would give up his seat in the lower house of parliament as of April 1 and leave top politics. He said he would vote against the party’s participation in the government of the ANO movement of Andrej Babis.

“My decision is deeply personal. I have spent nearly a quarter of a century in active politics, including eight years in CSSD governments. At my age, I feel that I seem to have the last chance to embark on a very different path in life still in full strength,” he said.

Analyst Kamil Svec told CTK that the resignation was no surprise in the situation in which Sobotka was strongly against the coalition of the CSSD and ANO that was being negotiated.

“His view is fairly clear. He did not seem to have an easy situation within the deputy group,” he added.

Analyst Josef Mlejnek said Sobotka might have been really exhausted from politics.

“If this is compared with the situation a year ago, he suffered crushing defeats in everything,” he added.

“Last spring, he started a fight against (former finance minister) Babis. He made a frontal attack, but the result was horrible for him. Babis won the autumn election, while the CSSD scored the terribly bad result,” Mlejnek said, pointing out the 7 percent of the vote the party received last October.

There may be another blow for him as the CSSD is negotiating again with ANO and Babis. “If he has a different option or offer to work elsewhere, this may be better for him,” Mlejnek said.

There may also be the motive that Sobotka may not be ready to vote for Babis’s government.

“For him, this might be an utter embarrassment if he were to raise his hand for a government in which the role of the CSSD will be far from glorious,” Mlejnek said.

“He would be just an embarrassing figure if he only were to vote for the impact of his own political defeat which he himself caused,” he added.

Svec said he did not presume that Sobotka might be followed by other deputies.

While in his post, Sobotka’s weakness was revealed. He is not the type of a political leader able to win a strong voter support, Mlejnek said.

“As long as he was the number two or number three and he held the post of deputy prime minister, his good qualities worked well,” Mlejnek said.

Sobotka was a good negotiator behind the scenes and his position in the party was strong. he added.

“His downfall occurred in the situation in which he became the number one,” Mlejnek said.

Lots of people believed Babis is the real prime minister, he added.

“When he started a headlong attack on Babis, this ended with a disaster,” Mlejnek said.

Svec said Sobotka had not been always unsuccessful.

“He was unsuccessful as he was unable to present the party he was leading in an interesting way in the election,” he added.

On the other hand, he was able to look for compromises and keep the government together for four years, although he had to face attacks by the coalition partners, his fellow party members and President Milos Zeman, Svec said.

Sobotka, 46, was the CSSD leader in 2011-17 and its acting chairman in 2005-06 and 2010-11. He was the prime minister in 2014-17 and finance minister in 2002-06.

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