Andrej Babiš, tasked with forming a new government after his party ANO won
a decisive victory in the election in October, is looking to tax church
restitution funds, the daily Lidové noviny writes. The funds until now
were exempt in a deal agreed between a previous center-right government and
religious organizations, to offset damages caused by the communist regime
when it unlawfully seized church property in Czechoslovakia after 1948.
Over 30 years, the state is to pay some 59 billion crowns, adjusted for
inflation for property which could no longer be returned (while property
worth 75 billion crowns, was).
Not only Mr Babiš is in favor of taxation, according to the daily, but also the Communist Party, which cited taxation of the funds as crucial for its support of an ANO-led minority government. The Freedom and Direct Democracy Party, led by businessman turned politician Tomio Okamura has also backed the idea.
ANO, the communists and Mr Okamura's party could together easily pass the changes in the new Chamber of Deputies. The change would not, however, be retroactive and could not affect funds returned since the deal went into effect in 2013.
The head of the ANO party, Andrej Babiš, has described as absurd
suggestions made by Jiří Hlavatý, who was recently elected to the lower
house on the ANO ticket, iDnes.cz reported. Mr. Hlavatý says the voters
who cast their ballots for him to become an MP should pay for a by-election
to fill his Senate seat. The wealthy businessman automatically lost his
Senate mandate when he won election to the Chamber of Deputies.
Mr. Babiš said he too had not known that the two seats could not be held simultaneously and that everybody made mistakes. But he said it was absurd that Mr. Hlavatý was talking about running for the Senate again and wants voters to pay for the by-election.
President Miloš Zeman says election winners ANO could form a government
with the help of two other parties, the website Denik.cz reported on
Wednesday. Speaking on a visit to the Liberec Region, the head of state
said he believed Andrej Babiš’s party would not need to make three
attempts to win approval in the lower house as a second grouping would join
the Communists in allowing the formation of a minority government. However,
Mr. Zeman did not name the second party.
The Communists have issued a number of demands to ANO in exchange for tolerating their planned minority cabinet, including a law on referendums.
Andrej Babiš, the head of ANO tasked with forming the new government, has
said he has found a candidate for the post of Minister of Industry and
Trade. However, he has not divulged the person’s name as yet. Mr Babiš
is looking to form a minority government capable of finding broader
political backing in the lower house, after his party won almost 30 percent
of the vote in the election in October.
On Monday, ANO representatives met with representatives of the Civic Democratic party to discuss posts in the new Chamber of Deputies; ANO is pushing for Radek Vondráček to become the new house speaker. Facing opposition to the idea, Babiš pointed out the last election winners, the Social Democrats, had also secured the post.
The Pirates party has said that it would not tolerate a government without
confidence ruling the country for a longer period and would file a
complaint with the Constitutional Court.
Party leader Ivan Bartoš made the statement in response to President Zeman’s words that a government without confidence was better than early elections. The claim drew a negative response from all parties including one from election winner Andrej Babiš from the ANO party who said he would not want to govern without a vote of confidence for four years.
The former head of Slovakia’s National Memory Institute says he came
under pressure over the case of ANO leader Andrej Babiš and the archive
evidence suggesting he was an agent for the communist era secret police,
Ondrej Krajňák said in an interview with Czech Radio that he came under political pressure over the case from some politicians that wanted to preserve good relations with the Czech Republic and was encouraged not to pursue the case with such vigour.
The Slovak Constitutional Court recently overturned an earlier court ruling clearing Babiš of cooperating with the secret police. Babiš says he will appeal.
Krajňák resigned over legal changes to the status of the institution that holds the former police archives.
More personalities have declared that they have turned down approaches from
ANO leader Andrej Babiš to be ministers in the Cabinet he is seeking to
The head of the association of small and medium sized businesses, Karel Havlíček, said he rejected an offer to be minister of industry and trade.
Composer and rector of the Janáček Academy in Brno, Ivo Medek, announced he did not want to be Minister of Culture. Babiš said earlier that he had already filled seven to eight positions.
The Mayors and Independents group have rejected a proposal put forward by
TOP 09’s Miroslav Kalousek aimed at blocking efforts by ANO’s Andrej
Babiš to form a minority government. Mr. Kalousek says if other parties
agree to not nominate a speaker, this would stop mean the current
government would have to continue.
However, the Mayors’ Jan Farský said before a meeting of his party, TOP 09 and the Christian Democrats on Wednesday that such a move represented nothing more than a “yell into the darkness”.
Moves by Czech election winner Andrej Babiš to put together a minority government drawing on experts and support where he can outside the ANO party have taken another step forward. But Babiš’ plans have also sparked opposition from most other parties and one idea for stopping them dead in their tracks.