Prague, Nov 29 (CTK) – The outgoing Czech centre-left government approved its resignation at its meeting on Wednesday and it is likely to rule the country until December 13 when President Milos Zeman would appoint the new minority government of ANO leader Andrej Babis, government spokesman Martin Ayrer told CTK.
The cabinet of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD), comprised of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), will deliver its resignation to the Presidential Office later on Wednesday, addressing it to President Milos Zeman, who will assign the cabinet to keep in office until the appointment of Babis’s government.
Zeman plans to accept the cabinet’s resignation on Tuesday, his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK Wednesday.
A Government Office representative delivered the resignation to the Prague Castle, the president’s office later on Wednesday, Ayrer said.
Sobotka sent it to Zeman in a letter and did not bring it himself, which is quite unusual. It has been for the first time in the history of the Czech Republic that the outgoing prime minister did not announce the resignation of his government to the president personally.
Relations between Sobotka and Zeman have long been tense and they escalated in the past few months.
The general election in which Babis’s movement clearly won was held five weeks ago. The outgoing cabinet could propose its resignation only after the constituent session of the new lower house of parliament. This session ended last Friday.
Along with Babis, the five ministers representing ANO are to continue in the next government.
The old government is to meet once more on December 6 when Zeman is to appoint Babis new prime minister.
Sobotka’s cabinet was appointed on January 29, 2014. It is the third government in the history of the independent Czech Republic, since 1993, to complete the whole of its four-year mandate.
Before, the mandate was completed by the cabinets of Vaclav Klaus (1992-1996) and Milos Zeman (1998-2002) only.
Out of Sobotka’s 17-seat cabinet, the three ministers for the KDU-CSL kept their posts for the whole four-year term, while some ministers for the CSSD and ANO were replaced meanwhile.
PM Sobotka made a total of nine personnel changes in his cabinet, replacing the ministers of regional development, transport and justice (all ministries controlled by ANO), twice the education minister, once the health minister, the human rights minister and the industry minister (all ministries controlled by the CSSD).
After the government crisis this May, Sobotka had Babis dismissed as finance minister.
In the past four years, the outgoing cabinet pushed through important legislation such as the civil service law and it abolished patients’ healthcare regulatory fees. Tax reliefs for families with children were repeatedly raised, and a third, lowest VAT rate introduced for books, infant formula and medicines. Systems of electronic registration of sales and ledger statements were introduced as steps to curb tax evasion.
Internal disputes rocked the government coalition in the past two years, mainly caused by a police reshuffle and a new conflict of interest law that regulates ministers’ businesses and is evidently aimed at Babis, a billionaire. This May, Sobotka announced his plan to hand in resignation on behalf of his government over discrepancies in Babis’s business deals, but finally he only decided to sack Babis.