If the Social Democrats quit the government and the cabinet is
reconstructed, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO would not need to seek a
fresh vote of confidence, the Communist Party’s Vojtěch Filip said on
Tuesday. Mr. Filip said the Social Democrats had around a third of the
seats in cabinet, meaning it would not be a major change.
The Communist Party chief said if other parties disagreed with this they could seek a vote of no-confidence. The Babiš government survived such a show of hands for the second time two weeks ago.
The Social Democrats are threatening to pull out of the coalition over the refusal of ANO leader Babiš to force the president to accept the resignation of the party’s arts minister.
On Thursday it will be one year since the appointment of the minority government of ANO and the Social Democrats. Much attention is focused on Andrej Babiš, who police have recommended face criminal prosecution. However, the prime minister's problems don't seem to have dented ANO’s popularity with the party’s base. I asked political scientist Petr Just for his assessment of the cabinet’s first 12 months.
The minority coalition government of embattled Prime Minister Andrej Babiš relies on the support of the Communists, giving the largely unreformed, pro-Moscow, anti-NATO party a political say for the first time since 1989. In exchange for its tolerance, the Communists have won some major policy concessions, and party chairman Vojtěch Filip seems increasingly determined to scupper a deal to buy US military helicopters to replace the Czech Army’s ageing fleet.
A controversial proposal to tax money paid to religious groups in compensation for property seized under Communism is a step closer to becoming law. In their first session since the Easter holiday, MPs on Tuesday overrode a veto by the Senate to tax the restitution income of 16 Czech churches and a Jewish federation.
A Communist Party bill aiming to tax church restitutions hit the rocks in the Senate on Wednesday where the vast majority of senators rejected it as “unconstitutional“. The bill was rejected not just by the opposition parties but by nine senators from the ruling ANO and Social Democratic Party which helped to push it through the lower house.
The government has rejected a bill by the Communist Party to legally
establish Czech as the state language. Justice Minister Jan Kněžínek
told a news conference on Friday that the proposal was useless because
Czech is already the preferred statutory language and there are already
sufficient laws in existence.
Criticism from other ministries included the fact that the norm does not propose any systemic tools for ensuring it would be adhered to. The Interior Ministry mentioned it found a grammatical error in the proposal's text. The bill will now be debated in Parliament.
The head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church has hit back at a Communist Party bill aimed at taxing compensation paid to churches for property seized under the previous regime. Cardinal Dominik Duka has described the Communists’ move as a “black comedy” and says a Senate vote on the matter will determine how faith groups proceed.
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday approved a controversial
Communist proposal to tax churches on monies they receive in line with a
property restitution law enacted in 2012. The proposal will now go to the
Senate for further debate.
Opponents of the proposal argue that it is unjust to tax money paid in to the churches in compensation for properties confiscated by the Communist regime. They argue it is akin to punishing the victim of a theft and also unconstitutional, as in their view it violates earlier treaties.
The coalition government comprised of the ANO and Social Democrat parties backed the proposal by the Communists, who had threated to withdraw their tolerance of the minority government if they had rejected it.
According to the Communists, the state stands to recover about 380 million crowns annually from the roughly 2 billion crowns it now transfers to 16 churches under bilateral agreements.
In total, the churches should receive 75 billion crowns worth of land and property confiscated by the Communist regime and get 59 billion crowns worth of compensation money for the rest, to be paid out over a 30-year period.
Czech Communists are to hold a protest at which participants will wear
high-visibility yellow vests in central Prague on January 26, the news
website Lidovky.cz reported. The Communist Party and other groups have
called the demonstration against the high cost of housing, water,
electricity and gas.
A representative of the Prague branch of the Communist Party said they would not pretend they had not taken inspiration from France, where “yellow vest” protests – initially against a rise in duties on diesel – have been taking place since the middle of November.