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ČSSD MPs heading for opposition, KDU, STAN to cooperate

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Prague, Oct 26 (CTK) – The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) are heading for opposition, their deputy chairman Lubomir Zaoralek said within ongoing post-election negotiations on Thursday, while the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) said they want to cooperate in the Chamber of Deputies.

Zaoralek, speaking after a meeting of CSSD negotiators with those from the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement, said the talks mainly focused on the constituting of the Chamber of Deputies and its bodies, and had no concrete conclusions.

Zaoralek and SPD chairman Tomio Okamura stated that their respective parties’ programmes profoundly differ from each other, but both confirmed their effort to seek agreement on the lower house’s setup.

The SPD, which finished fourth with 22 out of the lower house’s 200 seats in the October 20-21 election, compared to the CSSD’s sixth position and 15 seats, has proposed Okamura for the post of lower house deputy chairman.

The post of chairman is being sought by Radek Vondracek and Petr Fiala as the candidates of the election-winning ANO movement and the runner-up Civic Democrats (ODS, 25 seats), respectively.

Zaoralek did not say which of the two the CSSD would prefer.

At separate negotiations, the KDU-CSL (10 seats) and STAN (6 seats) agreed on close cooperation and share of information in the Chamber of Deputies, their representatives told reporters.

“We want to cooperate on the level of deputies’ groups and in expert opinions so that our joint capacities cover the [lower house’s] whole agenda,” STAN deputies’ group head Jan Farsky said.

The centrist KDU-CSL and STAN are considering extending their cooperation also to include the conservative TOP 09 party (7 seats). Based on planned negotiations, the three parties might field a joint candidate for a lower house deputy chairperson, STAN chairman Petr Gazdik and KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek said.

Having 23 seats of lawmakers together, the three parties might jointly form the third most significant force in the Chamber of Deputies, they said.

The KDU-CSL and STAN also want to cooperate in next year’s Senate elections, they said.

“We are discussing our joint support for [centrist and centre-right] candidates,” Gazdik said.

Earlier on Thursday, the KDU-CSL held negotiations with the ODS.

They agreed that the lower house commissions supervising secret services should be headed by opposition lawmakers.

Furthermore, the ODS does not want the number of lower house committees to be raised, compared with the previous election term, ODS deputies’ group chairman Zbynek Stanjura said.

ODS chairman Petr Fiala said the ODS is ready to cooperate with the KDU-CSL in the Chamber of Deputies on the goals the two parties have in common.

Nevertheless, Fiala would not promote a deeper integration of the Czech rightist parties, which outgoing TOP 09 Miroslav Kalousek proposed in the wake of his party’s election defeat and the sweeping victory of the rival ANO movement of billionaire Andrej Babis.

Like the CSSD, the KDU-CSL leaders did not say on Thursday whether they prefer Fiala or ANO’s Vondracek for lower house chairman.

After the talks between the ODS and the STAN on Thursday, Gazdik said the ODS has the right to claim the post of lower house chairman and Fiala is an appropriate and capable candidate.

However, the STAN MPs plan to decide on whom to support only at the meeting on November 7.

The ODS and the STAN agreed that the supervising commissions in the lower house should be headed by opposition MPs. “We want the commissions supervising the secret services be in the hands of the opposition,” Farsky said.

STAN deputy chairman Vit Rakusan said the filling of the posts of committee heads would also depend on the generosity of ANO that dominates the new Chamber of Deputies.

The constituent session of the Chamber is scheduled for November 20.

Record nine entities entered the Chamber of Deputies in the elections. Apart from the above ones, there are also the Pirates with 22 seats and the Communists with 15.

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