The political future of current Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš seems rather up in the air at present. His perceived ally Miloš Zeman may struggle to win re-election in the second round of presidential elections next week and, with Mr. Babiš likely to face criminal charges, the ANO chief now says another top party figure could lead the government. I discussed the situation with political scientist Petr Just.
The minority government of Andrej Babiš has decided to resign following its failure to win a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament. The ANO leader will still get another attempt to win support for a government but under stepped up pressure to hold meaningful negotiations with other parties which might result in a coalition.
The embattled Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, who is seeking a vote of confidence for his minority government, has asked lawmakers to lift his parliamentary immunity so that he may defend himself in court against charges of EU subsidy fraud. The scandal surrounding Babiš is hampering his efforts to form a viable government since political opponents say they will not support a prime minister who is charged with fraud.
The Czech Finance Ministry will provide two deputies with a full report by
the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) into the so-called Stork’s Nest
affair to two deputies. However, they won’t be able to pass the report to
anyone else. The Minister of Finance, Alena Schilerová, made the statement
in a debate programme on Czech Television. She also said the ministry
does’t plan to release the report to the public.
Babiš, along with his fellow ANO party deputy boss, Jaroslav Faltýnek, and nine others face criminal proceedings over suspected fraud. Police have launched criminal proceedings but the lower house must lift the immunity of Babiš and Faltýnek for them to proceed against them. The two deny any wrongdoing.
The finance ministry last week released a short summary of OLAF`s report, which calls for the near 50 million crowns of European funding for the recreation and hotel complex connected with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to be withdrawn.
Czech Prime Minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš will take part in
the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 24 and 25. Among
other things, he wants to defend the Czech position on EU migrant quotas
and make new political contacts, Andrej Babiš said on Sunday on private
television channel Prima.
This year’s annual meeting of world leaders in Davos will also attended by US president Donald Trump, who want to promote his America First agenda.
Czech attention focused Wednesday on the parliamentary vote of confidence in ANO leader Andrej Babiš’ government. But with the outcome of the vote a largely foregone conclusion, a lot of the attention was also on the appearance of outgoing president Miloš Zeman as he fights for five years more as head of state.
Andrej Babiš’ government has finetuned its policy programme after meetings with the country’s biggest employers’ group, trade unions, and the body representing local councils. The new policy programme is clearly a bid to win support in a first vote of confidence vote scheduled to take place on Wednesday.
Incomplete and untrue information was put forward in applying for EU
subsidy funds with regards to the Stork’s Nest hotel and recreation
complex, according to financial daily Hospodářské noviny. According to
the paper, citing the findings of the investigation by OLAF, the European
Anti-Fraud Office, the matter could constitute fraud, in line with findings
by the Czech police, which charged 11 people including Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš, in the case.
The prime minister and his deputy party leader Jaroslav Faltýnek are currently protected by parliamentary immunity. That was already lifted once by lawmakers but regained in the recent election.
The Stork’s Nest hotel and recreation complex, linked to Mr Babiš through Agrofert which he owned at the time, received 50 million crowns in EU funds.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’ minority government presented its policy
program on Monday including six priority areas for the Czech Republic:
digitalisation, strategic investment, pension reform, a high profile within
the EU, state reform and increased security.
Another aspect envisioned by the government is free train travel for students up to the age to 26 and seniors over the age of 65.
Details were reportedly sent to the parties in parliament; the government is looking for, but not expected to get, backing in a confidence vote on Wednesday.
ANO could form a majority government ahead of a second vote of confidence
in the Chamber of Deputies, the party’s Jaroslav Faltýnek said on Czech
Television on Sunday. ANO concede that their minority one-party government
will not win an initial vote of confidence scheduled for Wednesday.
At present ANO only have the backing of their own 78 deputies in the 200-seat lower house. The Communist Party, with 15 seats, will decide on their position on Tuesday.
Mr. Faltýnek said that it might happen that ANO would be able to form a majority cabinet ahead of a second confidence vote. He said the party would begin talks with other parties immediately after Wednesday’s ballot.
ANO leader Andrej Babiš has said he would prefer a minority government even in the case of a second vote.