The Social Democratic Party elected Jan Hamáček, deputy chairman of the lower house, as the party’s new leader on Sunday, entrusting him with the task of entering into negotiations on a possible coalition government with Andrej Babiš’ ANO party. The move may bring a breakthrough in the stalled government talks.
The former leading Czech government party, the Social Democrats, faces a crunch meeting over the weekend to choose a new leadership and try and patch the party up after disastrous election results last October. Key issues will be whether to go into government with ANO’s Andrej Babiš and what approach to take with the recently re-elected Czech president.
President Miloš Zeman says he will not directly support any candidate for
the post of chairman when he appears at a congress of the Social Democrats
the weekend after next. Mr. Zeman, himself a former leader of the party,
made the comment in a TV interview broadcast on Thursday evening.
The president said the Social Democrats were internally divided and at a low ebb. After heading the last government, the party came sixth in elections in October with 7.3 percent backing.
Among the candidates for the post of chairman in the vote are acting leader Milan Chovanec, Jan Hamáček and Jiří Zimola.
The Czech Republic is a small step closer to a bill on general referendums after four parties in the Chamber of Deputies agreed they will back a proposal by Freedom and Direct Democracy in a first reading. The parties in negotiations, including ANO, have a constitutional majority necessary to make changes. However they remain at odds over what form these will take.
ANO would win if elections were held now with around 30 percent of the
vote, achieving a similar tally to in elections held in October, suggests a
poll conducted last month by the CVVM agency. The Social Democrats would do
significantly better than in October, with 12.5 percent, the survey
indicates. The Czech Pirate Party would get the same result, again showing
an improvement on October.
Meanwhile the Civic Democrats, who came second in the last elections would come fourth now, albeit with an increased vote of 12 percent, suggests the poll. The Communists, who got 7.8 percent in October, would now receive 8 percent, going by the survey.
The poll indicates a fall in support for Freedom and Direct Democracy, who won 10.6 percent of the vote last time out but would not tally 7.5 percent.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is making a second attempt to form a new government after his minority government failed to win a vote of confidence in the lower house, has said that if his second attempt fails he would push for early elections. His potential partners have accused him of applying pressure tactics ahead of the second round of talks.
Andrej Babiš’s statement that there could be early elections if his
second attempt to form a government fails was intended to prepare the
ground for a fresh round of talks, according, Milan Chovanec. The acting
chairman of the Social Democrats said the PM in resignation’s words could
be understood as a threat aimed at ensuring such talks proved fruitful.
Speaking on the same TV debate show as Mr. Chovanec on Sunday, the chairman of TOP 09, Jiří Pospíšil, said Mr. Babiš’s comments in a newspaper interview on Saturday were a tactical move aimed at pushing the Social Democrats into a corner.
One of the candidates for the post of chairman of the Social Democrats, Jan
Hamáček, says entering a coalition with Andrej Babiš of ANO could be the
“least worst” option. Speaking in an interview with iDnes.cz, he said
his party, who came sixth in the general elections, were currently faced
only with bad decisions or worse ones.
President Miloš Zeman favours a situation under which ANO would form a minority coalition with the Social Democrats supported by the Communists or Freedom and Direct Democracy.
Mr. Hamáček said he could not imagine his party cooperating in any way with the latter. As for the Communists, he said they could not question Czech membership of NATO if they were involved with a pro-European ANO-Social Democrats government.
The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia has said it will restart talks
over possible support for a government led by outgoing Czech prime minister
The ANO leader and communist leader Vojtěch Filip met late Thursday for
talks. Filip said afterwards that they had agreed that expert groups from
both parties would discuss policy issues next week.
The communists had threated to walk away from talks in protest at an
addendum to a memorandum on lithium mining signed by the industry minister
and an Australian mining company.
Andrej Babiš is seeking to broaden his support with a view to a second attempt at winning support for a government after it fell short of the necessary votes in the first attempt.
Days after losing to Miloš Zeman in presidential elections, academic Jiří Drahoš is suggesting he may remain in politics. The political novice, who received 2.7 million votes for 48.6 percent of the total, told Czech Television on Monday that he was considering founding a new party and also looking at a possible Senate run. I discussed the 68-year-old’s potential future with political scientist Petr Just.
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