The head of ANO Andrej Babiš has expressed surprise over the speed and
stubbornness with which the police have requested the lower house of
Parliament to him and ANO deputy chair Jaroslav Faltýnek to be stripped of
their parliamentary immunity. The move would open the door to criminal
prosecution for alleged subsidy fraud.
Mr Babiš said the speed with which the police were acting was further evidence the “corrupt system was scared”. MPs from the Civic Democrats, Social Democrats, Pirates, Christian Democrats and TOP 09 are in favour of their immunity to be cancelled. The Freedom and Direct Democracy Party says it wants to read the case file first.
Czech police have submitted a fresh request to the chamber of deputies for ANO leader Andrej Babiš and party deputy leader Jaroslav Faltýnek to be stripped of their parliamentary immunity so they can pursue a fraud case. During the previous session of parliament, the pair came under investigation for alleged corruption over securing an EU grant for a development project.
Police have requested the lower house of Parliament to strip ANO leader
Andrej Babiš and ANO deputy chair Jaroslav Faltýnek of their
parliamentary immunity opening the way for criminal prosecution. The two
politicians were earlier charged with EU subsidy fraud but their
prosecution was halted when their regained their immunity in October’s
The police request comes less than 24 hours after the newly elected chamber of deputies assembled for its constituting session. It will now be up to the Mandate and Immunity Committee to consider the request and make a recommendation to the assembly which will take a final vote on the matter.
This will inevitably complicate talks on forming a new government. As the winner of the elections Babiš was to have been named prime minister and has been working to put together a minority government.
The newly elected lower house of the Czech Parliament began holding its
constituent session on Monday afternoon, 30 days after general elections in
which the winning ANO party took just under 30 percent of the vote.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, ANO chief Andrej Babiš said his party had
been left with no alternative but to form a minority government after being
“rejected” by the other groupings in the Chamber of Deputies.
Mr. Babiš said he would present his government’s policy statement to the other parties after he had outlined ANO’s intentions to President Miloš Zeman.
Negotiations to date suggest that Radek Vondráček of ANO will become be elected to the important speaker’s chair. The Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents have formed a group called Democratic Bloc and say they will not vote for Mr. Vondráček.
TOP 09’s Miroslav Kalousek said the vote on the speaker’s position would reveal who the real opposition was. Deputy speakers are also due being voted on, as is the composition of various committees.
On Monday it was decided that all of the record nine parties in the lower house would have seats on the 19-member Mandates and Immunity Committee. The session was then adjourned until Wednesday morning.
The newly-elected lower house of Parliament is holding its first session on Monday, opening the way for the demise of the old government and the naming of a new prime minister. In view of strong opposition from the traditional parties to an emerging minority government headed by Andrej Babiš, the opposition parties are pushing for the lower house to be able to fully apply its role within the system of checks and balances.
At least two supporters of the far-right Workers Party for Social Justice,
ended up in handcuffs in Prague on Friday afternoon after verbally and
physically assaulting the police after they were prevented from continuing
in their march towards the Old Town Square. Specially-trained anti-conflict
police were on hand to defuse the situation, as several demonstrators
demanded they be allowed through on Hybernská street.
Some shouted they should be allowed to continue "in a democracy". Novinky.cz carried live video of the march, which showed several protestors purposely blocking traffic after being told to turn back.
The Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, TOP 09 and the Mayors and
Independents have formed a group called Democratic Bloc with a view to
taking a common position when the first session of the new Chamber of
Deputies is held next Monday.
The parties said on Wednesday that they would not vote for ANO’s Radek Vondráček as speaker of the lower house and would demand two deputy speakers posts and the leadership of seven committees.
The Civic Democrats’ chairman Petr Fiala said he had planned to run for the post of speaker but that this was now pointless as ANO, the Communists, Freedom and Direct Democracy and the Pirates were going to back Mr. Vondráček.
TOP O9’s Miroslav Kalousek said it would now be clear who supported what he called the "project" of ANO chief Andrej Babiš and President Miloš Zeman. ANO won last month’s elections with almost 30 percent of the vote and are working on forming a minority government.
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.
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