The Czech Republic has rejected Italy’s request for EU members to share out some 450 asylum seekers rescued at sea. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said Italy’s decision to admit more migrants went against the agreement reached at the last EU summit and stressed that Europe must send out a clear signal that its doors were closed to further asylum seekers.
Social Democrat MP Milan Chovanec says he is ready to give up his seat in
the lower house if the party’s deputies group expels him over his failure
to back the government. The former interior minister did not show up on
Wednesday for a vote of confidence in a coalition government comprising his
party and ANO. He said he could not raise his hand for the alliance for
reasons of conscience.
In an interview with Friday’s edition of the newspaper Právo, Mr. Chovanec said he had not wished to go against the Social Democrats’ party base but could not take any more.
He said more store should have been set in the party’s pre-election pledges not to enter government with ANO leader Andrej Babiš. Mr. Babiš is facing criminal charges over alleged fraud.
The Czech Republic will not change its plans regarding defence spending
following a NATO summit in Brussels, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on
Thursday. The Prague government will therefore continue increasing defence
spending with a view to reaching the equivalent of 2 percent of gross
domestic product by the year 2024.
U.S. President Donald Trump had pushed for accelerated spending on weapons at the two-day summit. Mr. Babiš said he had told Mr. Trump that it was important to speak about absolute expenditures on armaments.
The acting Czech minister of foreign affairs, Jan Hamáček, who was also at the summit, said attention should be paid to Mr. Trump’s arguments regarding the amount the U.S. was spending on Europe’s defence.
ANO would have won elections last month with 31 percent of the vote,
suggests an opinion poll conducted by the CVVM agency. The
government-leading party garnered just under 30 percent in elections last
The survey indicates the Civic Democrats would have come second last month on 14 percent of the vote, ahead of the Social Democrats on 11 percent. The Christian Democrats gained compared to previous CVVM polls, while the Pirates, the Social Democrats and Freedom and Direct Democracy slipped.
Neither TOP 09 nor the Mayors and Independents would have reached the 5 percent threshold needed to return to Parliament, the survey indicates.
The head of the TOP 09 deputies group, Miroslav Kalousek, has called on ANO
chief Andrej Babiš to apologise for accusing him of drunkenness. During a
break from Wednesday evening’s session of the lower house Prime Minister
Babiš said that Mr. Kalousek was plastered and also a thief.
The TOP 09 politician said he hoped the ANO leader would apologise, in which case he would cease considering legal action over the statements.
Mr. Kalousek had accused Mr. Babiš of not being manly for withdrawing to the lower house when his intention of speaking to demonstrators outside Parliament was thwarted by missiles being thrown from the crowd.
The creation of a coalition government of ANO and the Social Democrats
supported by the Communists represents the end of an era for the Czech
Republic, say some opposition politicians. The government passed the
necessary vote of confidence in the lower house in the early hours of
Karel Schwarzenberg of TOP 09 said the republic created in 1993 had now been replaced by an idiosyncratic, strong-leader style democracy shaped by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
Petr Fiala, the leader of the Civic Democrats, said the new government was “half-communist” and would do nothing for the country. Christian Democrats’ chief Pavel Bělobrádek said that the first Czech Republic had come to an end and a new one had begun.
The Communist Party’s support for the minority coalition gives the party their first share of power since 1989.
The minority government of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš won a parliamentary
confidence vote in the early hours of Thursday, following a contentious
Mr Babiš’s new government is the first since 1989 to cooperate with the staunchly pro-Russian and anti-NATO Communists, who pledged to back him in exchange for positions in state-owned enterprises and policy concessions.
His centrist ANO party won nearly 30 per cent of the vote in the October general election, but many parties refused to work with him, as he faces fraud charges for allegedly misappropriating EU funds some 10 years ago.
In June, after months of wrangling, the Social Democrats formally agreed to form a coalition with ANO. Together they have 93 seats in the 200-member parliament, so Mr Babiš had to rely on the backing of the Communists, who have 15 seats, to win the confidence vote. In the end, the government received 105 votes.
Mr Babiš’s first minority government lost a confidence vote in January, after which he was invited by President Miloš Zeman to make a second attempt.
A minority coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats is undergoing a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday. Although Prime Minister Andrej Babiš doesn’t have a majority, he will in all probability succeed in his second attempt form a government, after having secured a deal with the Communists who pledged to back the coalition during key votes.
President Miloš Zeman expressed his support for the ANO-Social Democrat
minority coalition in a speech at the lower house of Parliament ahead of
Wednesday’s confidence vote in Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s
He praised the government’s programme statement, in particular its call for a 10-year investment program into infrastructure, both at the municipal and national level.
Ahead of President Zeman’s speech and formal debate, MPs from the conservative opposition party TOP 09 left the chamber to protest the fact that in exchange for their toleration of his government, Mr Babiš has made policy concessions to the Communists.
Another opposition party, the Christian Democrats, protested by unrolling a banner featuring the Soviet red star and declaring they would vote against any government relying on Communist support.