Prospective Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš has unveiled his Cabinet team – but at the moment for the president’s eyes only. President Miloš Zeman wants to vet the newcomers first before they are made public and rushed into place.
A complete list of government ministers without the prospective parliamentary support that could keep it in power. That’s the snapshot of the Czech political situation and the challenge facing ANO leader Andrej Babiš on Wednesday. That’s the day when the current outgoing government holds its last meeting with one prominent point on the agenda - the decision on when it should tender its resignation.
Babiš met for around 90 minutes with Czech president Miloš Zeman on Tuesday with the list of names of prospective Cabinet ministers for a Cabinet crammed with much of his former team and a sprinkling of outside experts.
On the president’s request, the line –up has not been revealed so far with Miloš Zeman wanting to quiz the new faces before he gives them a final seal of approval. But the indications are that he has no fundamental reserves. The newcomers should be given the once over at the president’s country residence between December 6 and 13.
Babiš described the outcome of the talks: "The president agreed that on November 13 the new government should be nominated. The president also asked that the names of ministers are not revealed because he wants to carry out consultations with them."
And there’s a bit more haste to get them in place. The new government should be appointed on December 13, earlier than originally indicated so that it can be in place for the EU summit in Brussels scheduled over the following two days. Babiš himself should be appointed prime minister a week earlier on December 6.
Most of ANO’s outgoing ministers should be back in the new Cabinet, albeit after one pre-announced departure, that of finance minister Ivan Pilný, and some musical chairs. Deputy finance minister Alena Schillerová is tipped to fill the vacant finance slot. Former minister for regional development Karla Šlechtová has confirmed she should switch to defense. And the outgoing minister there, Martin Stropnický, should move to foreign affairs. The justice, transport, and environment dossiers should remain in the same ANO hands.
For those wanting to guess the remaining Cabinet candidates in the small 15-person team there are a few clues. Two of the remaining eight should be women – with Andrej Babiš’ prospective Cabinet seeking to have four women ministers, the highest proportion in recent Czech history.
According to some Czech media reports, the interior and agriculture ministries have proved a particularly tough challenge to for Andrej Babiš to fill.
The timetable for the appointment of prime minister and Cabinet mean that a vote of confidence in the new government might not come this year.