The current session of the Czech lower house has been suspended until next
Tuesday afternoon. The minority ANO government of Prime Minister Andrej
Babiš had been due to undergo a first vote of confidence on Wednesday.
However, it was decided to interrupt proceedings after negotiations of the
immunity committee held during a break in Wednesday’s session ran on for
some time. The committee is due to consider whether to recommend that Mr.
Babiš be allowed to face criminal charges over the alleged abuse of EU
Unless there is some breakthrough between now and Tuesday, the ANO minority government is expected to lose the vote of confidence.
If a second confidence vote is in fact required, President Miloš Zeman said on Wednesday that he would give ANO time for another attempt to form a government. However, he insists that they produce in advance a written document promising to form a government with the signatures of at least 101 deputies.
In an address to the Czech lower house, President Miloš Zeman called on
Andrej Babiš’s ANO minority government to win support ahead of an
expected second attempt to pass the vote of confidence that it requires to
rule. Mr. Zeman said he would give Mr. Babiš sufficient time to try to
find the necessary backing. He told deputies to look to Germany, where
coalition talks have been going on for months.
The president made the comments on Wednesday morning prior to an initial vote of confidence that the ANO government were widely expected to lose as they don’t have the backing of any other grouping. Mr. Zeman had already said he would give ANO a second chance to form a government.
The head of state later said he would require a written declaration of support for a new Babiš government from at least 101 of the 200 deputies in the lower house prior to a second confidence vote.
In the lower house the president also told MPs to bear in mind the presumption of innocence. The comment was a reference to the fact that the police are seeking to charge ANO chief Babiš over the alleged abuse of EU subsidies.
Speaking ahead of the first vote of confidence in his minority government,
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš set out its aims. In an almost one-hour speech
to the Chamber of Deputies, the ANO chief referred to six areas, including
the European Union, investment, security, the digitalisation of the state
administration, pension reform and reform of the state.
Mr. Babiš said that it was nonsense to say that ANO were threatening democracy and that the party actually wished to develop it. He said his cabinet would work to improve the lives of Czech citizens and that the country had the potential to reach the first division in Europe.
The leading Czech internet company Seznam.cz is set to launch a nationwide
TV station on Friday. Entitled Televize Seznam, it will be available as a
classic terrestrial channel and on the internet.
Presenting the station on Wednesday, representatives said it aimed to base its product on well-known faces from the world of Czech journalism and would deliver both news and entertainment.
The Czech Syndicate of Journalists has condemned a decision by the
spokesman for President Miloš Zeman not to respond to questions from the
newspaper Hospodářské noviny or the news site Aktuálně.cz on the
financing of the head of state’s campaign for reelection.
Spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told the media outlets to apply for the information via a law on freedom of information. He said the media group they were part of, Economia, had been spreading disinformation about Mr. Zeman for months.
President Miloš Zeman says the non-Communist ministers who resigned in
1948, allowing the Communists to take power, were “stupid”. He made the
comment in a speech at an event at Prague Castle on Tuesday night marking
the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia and the 25th
establishment of the foundation of the Czech Republic.
Mr. Zeman said that then Communist Party chief Alexander Dubček had “crapped himself” in fear in the face of Warsaw Pact aggression in 1968. He also said that the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989 had not been brought about by dissidents but Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who deserved respect for this.
Church restitution needs to be amended, according to Prime Minister Andrej
Babiš of ANO. Speaking on Wednesday, he said that was why his government
was backing a Communist Party proposal to tax financial compensation for
assets that were not returned to churches under a divisive restitution
bill. Mr. Babiš said the financial compensation had been overinflated and
approved in the lower house in strange circumstances.
The Communists have made taxing the financial compensation to churches a condition for supporting or tolerating an ANO minority government.
The leader of the Christian Democrats, Pavel Bělobrádek, said taxing the compensation would be to deny the rule of law.
The remains of Czech Cardinal Josef Beran will be transported to the Czech
Republic from the Vatican in April, Cardinal Dominik Duka said on Tuesday.
They will be buried in St. Vitus’ Cathedral at Prague Castle.
Beran was exiled to Rome, where he died in 1969. He was buried in the crypt of St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican because the Czechoslovak communist authorities did not approve the return of his body to his homeland.
Last week, Pope Francis gave consent to the transport of Beran’s remains in accordance with the late cardinal’s last wishes.
The minority government of Prime Minister and ANO Party leader Andrej
Babiš is set to face a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies on
The ANO government is expected to lose its first attempt to find backing in the lower house since all the other parliamentary parties, including the Communists, have said they were not willing to support it. A second attempt at winning a confidence vote has been promised by head of state, Miloš Zeman, who is scheduled to appear and speak in the Chamber of Deputies ahead of the vote on Wednesday.