Efforts to win support for a minority government headed by ANO leader Andrej Babiš have cast doubt on the future of a hard-won settlement between the country’s 16 churches and the State. The ANO leader caused a stir this week when he expressed readiness to support the Communist Party’s demand for church restitutions to be taxed.
Andrej Babiš, tasked with forming a new government after his party ANO won
a decisive victory in the election in October, is looking to tax church
restitution funds, the daily Lidové noviny writes. The funds until now
were exempt in a deal agreed between a previous center-right government and
religious organizations, to offset damages caused by the communist regime
when it unlawfully seized church property in Czechoslovakia after 1948.
Over 30 years, the state is to pay some 59 billion crowns, adjusted for
inflation for property which could no longer be returned (while property
worth 75 billion crowns, was).
Not only Mr Babiš is in favor of taxation, according to the daily, but also the Communist Party, which cited taxation of the funds as crucial for its support of an ANO-led minority government. The Freedom and Direct Democracy Party, led by businessman turned politician Tomio Okamura has also backed the idea.
ANO, the communists and Mr Okamura's party could together easily pass the changes in the new Chamber of Deputies. The change would not, however, be retroactive and could not affect funds returned since the deal went into effect in 2013.
The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) established in 1999 by the Council of Europe to monitor member states’ compliance with the organization’s anti-corruption standards, is currently holding a two-day conference in Prague. Its aim is to highlight the main trends and the lessons learned from GRECO’s Fourth Evaluation Round of the Czech Republic’s anti-corruption drive.
The speaker of the last Chamber of Deputies, Jan Hamáček of the Social
Democrats, has called the first meeting of the new one. MPs elected last
month will, as expected, meet for a constituent session of the lower house
on Monday November 20 from 13:00.
President Miloš Zeman had already announced that date for the first meeting of the new Chamber of Deputies. At 30 days after general elections it is the latest date for such a meeting permissible under the Czech Constitution.
All parties in the lower house should be represented on important
committees and commissions, while the opposition ought to head the
committee overseeing the security services, a number of groupings agreed on
Wednesday. Representatives of the Civic Democrats, TOP 09, the Mayors and
Independents and the Czech Pirate Party said they had reached accord on
those demands following a meeting convened by Pirates’ leader Ivan
However, Jaroslav Faltýnek of election winners ANO said the division of places on Chamber of Deputies committees was based on the rules of the lower house.
Meanwhile other post-election talks continued on Wednesday. The Czech News Agency reported that ANO want to appoint Tomáš Hüner as minister of industry and trade in a minority government being assembled by party leader Andrej Babiš.
Representatives of the Communist party will meet with members of ANO next
Tuesday for a second round of talks. ANO is seeking support for a possible
minority government with members of the party and unaffiliated experts.
The Communists made clear they want to clinch the post of deputy chairman of lower house. The party’s deputies’ club will be led by Pavel Kováčik. In last weekend’s elections the number of Communist MPs shrunk from a previous 33 to 15.
Andrej Babiš, the head of the ANO party which dominated in the general
elections last weekend, has told news website iDnes he will try and form a
minority government made up of ANO nominees together with
politically-unaffiliated experts. He made the comment after failing to
convince other parties in the lower house this week to come on board,
namely the Civic Democrats, with whom ANO would have enough mandates to
form a majority.
As he was turned away, Mr Babiš said he would try and form a government which would put forward a program which would at least in part take into consideration priorities of parties not in the cabinet. He did not say from whom he could get support in a confidence vote.