Representatives from ANO and the Social Democratic Party met on Monday to discuss the possibility of renewing talks on forming a viable government. The prime minister in resignation Andrej Babiš is pushing for a minority government between ANO and the Social Democrats; the question is whether ANO made the latter an offer they could accept this time.
Though long based in Wales, where he teaches at the Cardiff School of Law and Politics, Professor Jiří Přibáň is a regular commentator on politics in his native Czech Republic. Last week I discussed the rise of populism, the chances of a vote on leaving the EU and the outlook for Czech liberals with the sociologist and theorist of law and constitutionalism. But I first asked Jiří Přibáň how Andrej Babiš’s ANO had, in little over five years, succeeded in becoming the dominant force in Czech politics.
The air strikes against military targets in Syria carried out by US, UK and France in the wake of a recent chemical attack on civilians in the Syrian city of Douma have divided the Czech political scene. While the government endorsed the attack, the president and some opposition parties denounced it as aggressive and unacceptable.
Leading members of the right-wing opposition have criticised prime minister
in resignation Andrej Babiš, alleging he was flip-flopping or
backpedalling on the strike against Syria by US, British and French forces.
On Saturday, the prime minister said the strike had been inevitable but a day later, after a meeting with the president, he suggested that the strike had resolved nothing.
During a work visit to the region of Karlovy Vary on Monday, he then called the threat of additional strikes a deterrent against the use of chemical weapons.
The apparent changes in his stance drew fire from long-time political rival Miroslav Kalousek of TOP 09, who suggested he could respect someone with a differing but firm position but not a politician who - in his view - changed his mind one day to the next.
Negotiation teams of ANO and the Social Democrats are scheduled to meet on
Monday to hold talks about the possibility of cooperation in a future
minority government supported by the Communist Party.
Previous talks between the two parties had collapsed after ANO refused to give up either the Finance Ministry or Interior Ministry portfolio. Last week, the leadership of ANO decided to renew the talks, since some ANO were opposed to entering a government involving the anti-migrant Freedom and Direct Democracy.
The Social Democrats said last week they would wait for the offer from the ANO party before they decided to renew the government negotiations.
ANO won 78 mandates in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies in elections in October but have so far failed to create a majority administration.
The acting Prime Minister Andrej Babiš would like to reach an agreement
with the Social Democratic Party on the division of ministerial portfolios
in a prospective coalition government by the end of next week. The ANO
leader made the announcement on Sunday after meeting with president Miloš
Zeman at the Lány Chateau.
Mr Babiš said that president Zeman acknowledged the fact that the leadership of ANO had decided to renew the possibility of cooperation in a future minority government with the Social Democrats, adding that there was no reason to protract the talks.
Talks between ANO and the Social Democrats collapsed last week after ANO refused to give up either the Finance Ministry or Interior Ministry portfolio. President Miloš Zeman subsequently recommended Andrej Babiš approach the communist party and Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy Party to create a government. However, some ANO members have said they could not stomach a deal involving the anti-European and anti-migrant party.
The leadership of the ANO party have announced that they will try to renew government negotiations with the Social Democrats. The decision is the latest turn in the nearly six-month saga to form a government following October elections which ANO won convincingly but fell short of an overall majority.
President Miloš Zeman will receive the prime minister in resignation
Andrej Babiš on Sunday to be updated on the state of coalition government
negotiations. Mr Babiš, tasked with a second attempt at forming a viable
government, so far has not been successful in reaching an agreement with
possible coalition partners.
The head of state previously urged the prime minister to negotiate with the Communists and the anti-Islam and anti-migrant Freedom and Direct Democracy. Following talks on Thursday, however, ANO did an about-face with the intention of reopening talks with the Social Democrats. Last week negotiations with the Social Democrats over a possible minority government fell apart over demands for certain portfolios.
The head of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, has also asked to meet with the head of state.
A meeting between ANO and the Social Democrats renewing the possibility of
cooperation in a future minority government has been scheduled for Monday
evening, following a working trip to Karlovy Vary by the prime minister.
Prime Minister in resignation Andrej Babiš confirmed the news, adding he
hoped that a solution would be found quickly.
Last week, talks between party representatives collapsed after ANO refused
to give up either the Finance Ministry or Interior Ministry portfolio.
The Social Democrats had sought the Interior Ministry, it was reported, as a counterbalance to Mr Babiš remaining prime minister, as he faces charges for alleged EU subsidy fraud.
The prime minister did not say on Friday whether the Interior Ministry portfolio would be offered.
The leadership of the ANO party have decided to try and renew negotiations
over a government with the Social Democrats.
Members of the party’s leadership said late Thursday they wanted fresh talks and that ANO leader and prime minister Andrej Babiš would quickly get in contact with his counterpart Jan Hamáček.
Talks between the two sides collapsed a week earlier over the Cabinet seats wanted by the Social Democrats to curb possible conflicts of interest by billionaire businessman Babiš. The Social Democrats targeted top posts in the ministries of finance and interior saying that these could help them keep check on Babiš if he remained prime minister.
Babiiš said after meeting head of state Miloš Zeman this week that he would approach the anti-EU, anti-Islamic, Freedom and Direct Democracy Party of Tomio Okamura to create a government.