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ČSSD to hold election congress in April

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Prague, Oct 22 (CTK) – The Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) is to hold a one-day extraordinary election congress in Hradec Kralove, east Bohemia, on April 7, CSSD acting chairman Chovanec Milan Chovanec told reporters after the party board’s meeting tonight, preceding its talks with the winning ANO.

“We propose the congress for April 7, 2018, the day of the 140th anniversary of the establishment od Social Democracy,” Chovanec said.

The Czech general election has proved the risks of an alliance with the ANO movement of Andrej Babis, CSSD election leader and Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said before the board’s meeting.

The CSSD, senior member of the outgoing coalition government with ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), suffered a debacle in the October 20-21 election. It gained mere 7.3 percent of the vote and its deputy group shrank from 50 to 15 members.

The CSSD has paid dearly for a coalition with Babis, Zaoralek said.

CSSD acting chairman Milan Chovanec said the board would discuss technical matters as well as the party’s strategy for the talks with ANO to be held in the Chamber of Deputies later in the evening.

Chovanec said he would attend meetings of the parties’ chairmen, while Zaoralek would join him at meetings of two and two. In the case of meetings of a broader leadership, current lower house chairman Jan Hamacek and PM Bohuslav Sobotka will accompany them.

Babis said he would debate the lineup of the leadership of the new Chamber of Deputies with the Social Democrats tonight like with the other parties that had entered it in the weekend election. Talks on a new government will be held later, he added.

Babis also told reporters that he would like to nominate some unaffiliated experts to the next government.

Chovanec said the CSSD might end up in opposition after all and that this idea “is not that foreign to him.” The CSSD should not be striving for a government an any cost, he indicated.

Chovanec reiterated that the CSSD cannot join a government coalition headed by Babis who was facing charges.

Babis and ANO first deputy head Jaroslav Faltynek were released for prosecution on suspicion of an EU subsidy fraud in September, but since both were re-elected and regained a lawmaker’s immunity, their prosecution was interrupted. The Chamber of Deputies in its new composition must decide on it again.

Zaoralek also said the Social Democrats would again vote for the release of Babis and Faltynek for prosecution in the new Chamber of Deputies.

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