Three months after general elections, the final obstacles on the path to the appointment of a new Czech government have been cleared. The nascent coalition have mollified the president by passing a civil service bill, while he has evidently swallowed his doubts about some cabinet nominees and will finally make them ministers in less than a week’s time.
Wednesday was a good day for the recently appointed Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka of the Social Democrats. Just short of three months after his party came first in general elections, obstacles on the path to the appointment of a coalition he has put together with ANO and the Christian Democrats fell away one by one.
It was announced by the Christian Democrats that one of their deputies had finally put his signature to the coalition agreement, meaning that all 111 members of the nascent alliance had inked the document.
Despite loud protests from the opposition-to-be, the three coalition parties pushed a civil service bill through the Chamber of Deputies. President Miloš Zeman had made the passing of that legislation a condition for appointing the new government.
Perhaps the most significant development on Wednesday was when it became clear that the head of state was willing to swallow his avowed misgivings about the abilities or backgrounds of several members of the proposed 17-seat cabinet. After weeks of sniping at them, there had been fears that Mr. Zeman would reject some candidates, potentially sparking a constitutional crisis.
However, the first of the “problematic” nominees, designated defence minister Martin Stropnický, emerged from a meeting with the president to tell journalists that the latter was, in the end, going to appoint him.
Mr. Stropnický also said he expected to liaise with the current defence minister if and when he takes up a new post in the president’s office.
“I offered my preparedness for regular and relatively close cooperation with the Castle, when General Picek will, in all probability, work here as an advisor. The general and I know one another and he has filled me in on what the Ministry of Defence has been working on, and on which issues are urgent and which aren’t.”
Those talks were part of a series of unprecedented meetings the president has been conducting with ministerial candidates, which some regard as another baffling delaying tactic on the part of Mr. Zeman, and a concession to the first elected head of state.
However, while the president has been dragging his heels over the appointment of a new government, the wait is very nearly over. It has just been announced that he will swear in Mr. Sobotka and his ministers at Prague Castle next Wednesday.