Polling stations around the country opened on Friday for Czechs to cast their vote in presidential elections. What are they expecting from their presidential candidate? Do they think their vote makes any difference? We talked to two Czechs at the opposite ends of the age spectrum about how they perceived the contest.
Czech voters began going to the polls on Friday in the first round of the presidential election. Standing in the election are nine candidates including the incumbent, Miloš Zeman, who is seeking a second five-year term. It is only the second time in history that Czechs are voting directly on who will be the head of state.
Czech attention focused Wednesday on the parliamentary vote of confidence in ANO leader Andrej Babiš’ government. But with the outcome of the vote a largely foregone conclusion, a lot of the attention was also on the appearance of outgoing president Miloš Zeman as he fights for five years more as head of state.
The police’s anti-corruption squad has recommended 18 people be charged
for large-scale tax evasion connected to diesel and gas transactions
between 2010 and 2011. The fuels were bought in Germany and Austria but the
VAT allegedly went unpaid; damages have been estimated at 1.4 billion
The news was confirmed by the spokesman for the National Centre Against Organised crime Jaroslav Ibehej.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš who has failed to secure support for his
minority government in the lower house, may be able to rely on backing from
the Social Democrats and Communists in a second attempt to form a
government, the news site Novinky.cz reported.
According to the news site the Social Democratic Party is increasingly divided on whether to support a Babiš cabinet and members in favour are pushing for a party referendum on the issue. With support from the two parties Babiš’ cabinet would have 108 votes in the lower house. He told the server he was ready to negotiate with the Social Democrats on the conditions for their backing.
The Communists have already indicated they would be ready to back a Babiš government under certain conditions. A vote of confidence in the present government is due to be held on January 10th.
Lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies passed the state budget for 2018 on Tuesday, approving last-minute additions including more funds for social services, farming and food processing. The Social Democrats who led the previous government which put the proposal in motion, expressed satisfaction there would also be brighter days ahead for education. Not all are happy, however, over the proposed deficit.
The General Inspectorate of the Security Services on Tuesday launched a
series of raids in Prague in connection with the alleged influencing of
criminal proceedings. The Czech News Agency said that officers from the
inspectorate, which polices the police, had carried out searches of the
premises of law firms. One was reported to be on Wenceslas Square.
The news site Novinky.cz said that several civilians and members of the security services had been arrested. Another news site, Aktuálně.cz, reported that four of those detained were police officers.
The Czech Republic’s newly appointed Prime Minister, Andrej Babiš, has one week to put together his new Cabinet team. Mr Babiš is planning to draw on ANO party’s former government members as well as a number of incoming experts. But how likely will the new Cabinet get a majority in the first confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies?
The current government of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian
Democrats, led by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, held its last meeting on
President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday formally accepted the government’s
resignation and is due to name ANO leader Andrej Babiš prime minister
later on Wednesday afternoon.
The outgoing Sobotka government will continue its work until next week, when president Zeman is expected to formally appoint a minority ANO government.
Since October elections, in which ANO took almost 30 percent of the vote and 78 seats in the 200-seat lower house, the government has limited its activities to urgent matters and European affairs.