Prague, May 23 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman will name Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) again as the prime minister irrespective of the outcome of the Social Democrat (CSSD) referendum on the party’s forming a joint government with ANO, Zeman said on Wednesday.
Zeman repeated he was against an early election. He said he believed a new government would be formed before the summer holidays.
However, due to the Social Democrat referendum, the deadline may be prolonged by a week or two, he added.
Zeman dismissed media reports about his alleged pondering on whether to appoint a caretaker cabinet headed by Daniel Benes, director of the CEZ state-controlled giant energy utility.
“I will keep my promise and will appoint Andrej Babis as prime minister for the second time, regardless of the [CSSD] referendum result, because promises must be kept without any conditions,” Zeman said.
Zeman insists on the view that an early election would offend the voters and would be a sign of politicians’ incompetence.
Some time ago, Babis allowed for the alternative of an early election if a minority government with the CSSD were not formed.
Zeman said Babis still had at his disposal two alternatives of the government cooperation, which would give him the majority of 108 or 115 votes in the Chamber of Deputies, respectively.
The first figure reflects the coalition of the CSSD and ANO with the Communist backing, the second the cooperation of ANO, KSCM and the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD). Zeman supports both of them.
In reaction to Zeman, Social Democrat leader Jan Hamacek wrote to CTK that Zeman had said earlier that he would name Babis as the prime minister even in the second try.
“This is why I understand his words from today as the confirmation of his previous statement,” Hamacek said.
Right-wing politicians criticised Zeman’s words.
Civic Democrat (ODS) MP Jan Skopecek said Zeman, in naming Babis, is turning the blind eye to the political crisis and ceasing to seek a solution that would put an end to the rule of Babis’s current ANO minority government which failed to gain parliament’s confidence in January.
TOP 09 chairman Jiri Pospisil said Zeman would prolong the rule of a government that lacks confidence, and shift the country towards a constitutional crisis, if he appointed Babis prime minister still before the CSSD referendum result is known or after its negative result.
Zeman said the “only pleasant advantage” of an early election would be that “exhibitionist [TOP 09 deputies’ group head Miroslav] Kalousek would disappear [from parliament], together with TOP 09, which accepted sponsor gifts from [businessman] Zdenek Bakala. Maybe the Mayors and Independents (STAN) would disappear as well,” Zeman said, referring to the two small rightist parties that are critical of him and whose popularity has recently oscillated around the 5-percent parliamentary threshold.
“However, resistance to an early election will prevail in me. I will face Kalousek’s exhibitionism rather than admit that citizens are forced to cast their ballots again and again due to the incompetence of politicians, which, in addition, would cost one billion crowns,” Zeman said.
Asked what his reaction would be if the CSSD proposed its MEP Miroslav Poche for a new foreign minister, Zeman said problems should not be solved before emerging.
Zeman recently said he disapproves of the candidacy of Poche due to his approach to migration. Media pointed out that Poche supported Zeman’s rival candidate in the January presidential elections.