President Miloš Zeman has tasked the leader of the ANO Party Andrej Babiš
with forming a new government. At a joint press briefing following their
meeting at Lany Chateau on Tuesday, the president said he supported
Babis’ plan to form a minority government and would appeal to lower house
deputies to give it a vote of confidence.
The president said he was strictly opposed to early elections and would give Babiš a second attempt at forming a cabinet if his minority government fails in a confidence vote in the lower house.
Babiš, who was rebuffed by the traditional parties during coalition negotiations, has said he will form a minority government made up of ANO ministers and unaffiliated experts and will ask the lower house for a vote of confidence in his cabinet before Christmas. There is concern that with support from the president he could govern the country for some time even if he failed to win a confidence vote.
The Czech power utility ČEZ is selling its coal-fired power plant in Varna
to the Bulgarian company SIGDA OOD. ČEZ was forced to halt operations at
the plant in 2015 after it failed to bring it up to EU environmental rules.
ČEZ said it had been denied an exemption by the European Commission and
the plant could not continue to work without an environmental upgrade. With
a generating capacity of 1,260 megawatt, the plant serves as a back-up to
the national power grid and the Bulgarian authorities have stressed the
importance of keeping it in operation, pointing out it could become a much
needed source of energy if Bulgaria were to be hit by a gas crisis.
ČEZ wants to leave the Bulgarian market due to drawn-out problems with the local authorities. It is to decide about the sale of all its Bulgarian assets, which include two renewable energy plants and an electricity trader, by the end of this year.
TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek has called for the traditional parties to
boycott Babiš’ plans for a minority government by blocking the
establishment of a functioning lower house.
Kalousek said the only way to prevent the ANO leader from governing the country without a confidence vote was not to elect a chairman of the lower house. Without a functioning lower house the outgoing government of Bohuslav Sobotka cannot resign, and with Sobotka in office the president cannot name a new prime minister, Kalousek argued.
He said he would try to win support for the plan among all parties with the exception of the Communists, who have already said they would consider supporting a minority government led by Babiš.
The Constitutional Court has definitively ruled in favour of the Lego toy
company in its dispute with the Czech Pirates Party over the use of Lego
figures in their 2012 election campaign spot.
The Pirates were ordered to apologize to the company by the Prague Municipal Court which ruled that they had violated Lego’s ownership rights. The Constitutional Court upheld the ruling on Tuesday, saying that the clip could have created the false impression that Lego supported the party.
The Pirates Party which challenged two previous verdicts by lower instance courts on the grounds that they violated their freedom of expression said they would respect the ruling.
The Mayors and Independents party (STAN) has appealed to parties with a
similar goals and viewpoints to support the former chair of the Czech
Academy of Sciences Jiří Drahoš in the race for president. The leader of
the party’s deputies’group in the lower house Jan Farský said he
believed Drahoš was one of the few candidates who could seriously
challenge the incumbent president, Miloš Zeman for the post.
There are now 12 candidates in the race. In order to join the race each candidate must collect a certain number of signatures in support of his or her candidacy – either from 50,000 citizens, ten senators or twenty deputies.
A fourth person is reported dead as a result of the severe storm that hit
the Czech Republic on Sunday. The latest victim was an eighty-year-old man
who had gone mushroom hunting in the forest. Three other people were killed
in different parts of the country by falling trees.
Meanwhile, thousands of people were still without power on Tuesday as maintenance crews struggled to fix damaged power lines. Persistent rain in some areas have made it difficult to use heavy technology.
The Karlovy Vary region has placed a number of forests and wooded areas off limits to the public for fear of more accidents. Clean-up work continues around the country and the damages are expected to reach billions of crowns.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided as of Tuesday to terminate the
electronic registration system for foreigners known as Visapoint.
Established in 2009 and strongly criticized by Czech employers as well as
human rights organizations, the system required citizens of some countries
to register in order to subsequently apply for a permit to remain in the
Czech Republic for more than 90 days.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that visa applicants could submit their applications from November 24 to Czech embassies and consulates, in person, by e-mail or by phone.
The speaker of the Czech Senate, Milan Štěch, arrived in South Korea on
Monday for a four-day working visit. He is being accompanied by a
delegation which includes executives from the Czech Chamber of Commerce and
the president of the Academy of Sciences, Eva Zažímalová.
In addition to talks in Seoul, focused on encouraging new South Korean investment in the Czech Republic and expanding cooperation between the two countries in numerous areas, the Czech delegation will visit the city of Busan. Štěch will also open the new site of the Czech Embassy in Seoul.
A new poll conducted by the CVVM agency suggests that a majority of Czechs
remain distrustful or pessimistic about the country’s political parties
roughly a week after voters went to the polls.
Roughly two-thirds told pollsters that parties were only interested in voters at election time, that they were corrupt, that they divided society and that their main goals were maintaining their own advantages and interests.
Some 72 percent of respondents said that although political parties criticized one another, they were all the same.
A little over 50 percent said that parties were needed to defend interests of different social groups, and for democracy to function.