The latest step in the lengthy search for a Czech government has got underway, with members of the Social Democrats voting in an internal referendum on whether to go into coalition with ANO. However, there is some opposition to such a move within the left-wing party – and the result of the balllot won’t be known until mid-June.
An internal referendum of the Social Democrats on whether to take part in a
coalition government with ANO gets underway on Monday. The referendum,
which will run until June 14, will be valid if at least a quarter of the
party membership takes part. The results will be published on June 15.
The Social Democrats last week announced the names of the party’s nominees for the five portfolios the Social Democrats should get in the cabinet. The names included party leader Jan Hamáček, who should head the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The party also insists on Miroslav Poche’s candidature for the post of foreign minister, despite president Zeman’s disapproval.
The Social Democrats have been deeply divided about forming a government with ANO leader Andrej Babiš, who is facing criminal charges for alleged EU subsidy fraud, and the result of the referendum is expected to be tight.
Leadership of the Social Democratic Party has approved the list of
candidates nominated for ministerial functions in the future coalition
government that may be formed by the Social Democrats and ANO party.
The Social Democrats insist on Miroslav Poche’s candidature as Foreign Minister, despite president Miloš Zeman’s disapproval. MEP Poche had openly supported Zeman’s opponent, Jiří Drahoš, in the recent presidential elections.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs should be headed by the leader of the Social Democratic Party, Jan Hamáček and the Ministry of Labour by the chairman of the party branch in the Vysočina region, Petr Krčál. Agriculture Ministry should be entrusted to the current president of the Agrarian Chamber, Miroslav Toman, while the mayor of the city of Olomouc, Antonín Staněk, should be appointed Minister of Culture.
The Social Democratic Party leadership meets on Friday to agree on its
ministerial line-up in the emerging coalition government with ANO. Under
the agreement reached, the Social Democrats should be in charge of the
ministry of the interior, foreign affairs, labour, agriculture and the
Although the Social Democrats and ANO are finalizing the details of the new coalition government, the agreement could still be scuppered by a referendum in the Social Democratic Party which is to vote on whether to enter into a coalition with ANO. The result of the vote should be made public in mid-June.
ANO deputy leader Richard Brabec has said that communist party reservations
about Czech army foreign missions abroad could be dealt with on an
Brabec was responding to the threat from the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia that it would not support the proposed minority coalition government of ANO and the Social Democrats if a policy pledge to boost foreign missions remains. Communist party leaders said they had problems about increased participation in missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the possibility of the Czech army playing a role in a NATO rapid reaction force in the Baltic States.
Negotiations between party leaders are expected to take place Thursday. The support of 15 communist members of parliament is needed for the minority coalition in the lower house.
The ANO party which is trying to form a coalition government with the Social Democrats, with tacit support from the Communist Party, is preparing changes to the law on electronic cash registers introduced at the start of 2017 as a means of fighting tax-evasion. The third and fourth phase of the project, due to have come into force this year, had to be postponed after the Constitutional Court voiced reservations to some of the measures involved.
Negotiations over forming a minority Czech government between the dominant ANO party and the Social Democrats have been wrapped up regarding the outstanding policy issues. But the Czech communists, whose support is crucial for a new government, have dropped what amounts to a bombshell, warning that they will not line up with the minority government if a pledge to boost Czech foreign missions is not dropped.
The Social Democrats say they have no intention of a written agreement with
the Communist Party under which the latter would pledge support for a
possible coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats. Martin Netolický,
deputy chair of the Social Democrats, expressed their position on a TV
debate show on Sunday. He said it would be up to ANO to deal with the
Communists as the main party in the potential government.
Mr. Netolický also said it was not the Communists’ place to assess the names his party was putting forward for the cabinet as the party would not bear responsibility for governing the country.
Talks are ongoing about an ANO-Social Democrats minority government supported on key votes in the lower house by the Communists. This would give the latter a share of power for the first time since 1989.
An internal referendum of the Social Democrats on whether to go into
government with ANO will run from May 21 until June 14, party officials
said. The results will be published on June 15. Chairman Jan Hamáček said
that prior to the vote the names of the party’s nominees for the five
portfolios the Social Democrats should get in the cabinet will be
ANO leader Andrej Babiš says if the Social Democrats do not approve a coalition of the two parties one option could be early elections to take place in May next year at the same time as elections to the European Parliament.
If a deal between ANO and the Social Democrats is signed, their minority coalition would likely be supported in key votes by the Communist Party, who would be playing a role in government for the first time since 1989. For their part, the Communists say they would not back a government that expanded US military missions abroad.
Social Democrat deputy leader Jaroslav Foldyna declined on Friday to
apologise to the party’s top branch for his behaviour at a gathering of
Russia’s Night Wolves bike gang in Prague on Monday.
At the event Mr Foldyna got into altercations with protesters against the nationalist bikers, who have been linked to President Vladimir Putin. Afterwards, Mr Foldyna released a video – recorded by weights in a gym – refusing to apologise and describing himself as a patriot.
Earlier on Friday, Senate chairman Milan Štech said Foldyna had no business being in the party leadership. While he declined to apologise, the deputy leader said he was sorry he had put pressure on party chairman Jan Hamáček.