The ANO-appointed minister of finance, Alena Schillerová, says that if the
Social Democrats put forward a special tax on the banking sector it would
be in breach of the coalition agreement.
The latter party’s minister for labour and social affairs, Jana Maláčová, said last week that she would submit a bill on a banks tax herself if no agreement was reached with ANO on the matter.
Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Minster Schillerová said if her cabinet colleague actually put forward legislation to that effect it could spell the end of the coalition government.
Ms. Maláčová argues that Czech banks are making record profits.
The Czech Banking Association says 15 EU states have a bank sector tax.
Social Democratic Party leader Jan Hamáček has received full backing from
the party’s deputies’ group in the lower house over the manner in which
he handled the crisis surrounding the naming of a new culture minister.
Mr. Hamáček said after Friday’s meeting of the group that he was confident he still enjoyed strong backing from the party leadership and there would be no attempts to undermine party unity.
The Social Democrat leader recently came under fire from some regional party members who said he should have been more emphatic in defending the party’s position in talks with the prime minister and president and even made good on his threat to walk out of the coalition government.
After months of deadlock surrounding the president’s unwillingness to name the Social Democrat nominee for culture minister, party chairman Jan Hamáček announced their second choice for the office is Lubomír Zaorálek. The proposal has since been welcomed by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and by President Miloš Zeman, who has said he will name Mr. Zaorálek culture minister on Tuesday.
Social Democrat (ČSSD) deputy chairman Michal Šmarda has withdrawn his
name from consideration as Minister of Culture, he told Czech TV on Monday
night. He said it made no sense to try to join the cabinet without the
backing of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO).
President Miloš Zeman had refused to name Šmarda to the post, leaving it vacant for months, although under the Constitution legal experts argue he is obliged to accept the nominees put forward by the prime minister.
The Social Democrats had threatened to quit the government if Šmarda were not appointed, citing the coalition agreement with ANO that the Ministry of Culture was under their purview, and the president’s violation of the Constitution.
Zeman and Babiš are due to discuss the situation at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at the president’s Lány residence.
Šmarda said he would recommend to his party that it leave the government. He also said he now intends to run in the Senate elections next year, contesting in the Žďár region.
The Social Democratic party is divided over how to proceed in the drawn-out
dispute over a change- of-guard at the Culture Ministry, with mounting
calls for the party to walk out of the government if the coalition
agreement is not fully respected. The party leadership is to meet on Monday
to decide how to proceed in the matter.
The Social Democrats‘ decision to effect a change at the post of culture minister has been thwarted by President Miloš Zeman, who first refused to accept the incumbent minister’s resignation and then ignored a request by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš for his dismissal and replacement by the party’s chosen successor.
At a meeting on Friday between President Zeman, Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček and Culture Minister Antonín Staněk, the president said he would accept the culture minister’s resignation on July 31st and would await the result of the Social Democrat leadership meeting on Monday as regards his successor. The party has already nominated Michael Šmarda for the post, a choice that the president does not approve of.
In line with the coalition agreement between ANO and the Social Democrats each party is fully entitled to decide who will be in charge of their given portfolios.
President Miloš Zeman has not made any final decision concerning the replacement of Culture Minister Antonín Staněk, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said after a meeting at Lány Chateau on Thursday. Mr Babiš and Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček met with the head of state with the aim to resolve the dispute that could bring down the government.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says his ANO-Social Democrats cabinet will
discuss how much of its joint programme has been achieved at a meeting on
Monday, just days before the first anniversary of the government’s
On Wednesday the coalition will face a no-confidence vote called after a preliminary European Commission audit found Mr. Babiš to be in conflict of interests due to his business interests.
The minority government is expected to survive the vote, with ANO, the Social Democrats and the Communists – who support the government on key votes – raising their hands against.
The coalition can boast increases in salaries and pensions, though promised reforms of the pension system have yet to materialise.
The chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats, Petr Fiala, says Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš has so many personal and family problems that he is
unable to concentrate on serving the country. He told Saturday’s edition
of newspaper Právo that recent events mean that the Czech Republic has
moved a step closer to early elections.
The Civic Democrats were one of a number of opposition parties that tabled a no-confidence vote in the ANO-led government after Mr. Babiš’s son sparked a scandal by saying he had been taken to Crimea to “disappear” during an investigation involving the PM and alleged corruption.
Mr. Fiala told Právo the defeat of the no-confidence vote had not been a foregone conclusion. He said the junior party in the coalition, the Social Democrats, had displayed cowardice by not taking part in the show of hands.
The Social Democrats have also pledged to work to dissolve the lower house in certain circumstances and this is reason to believe the current government cannot last much longer, Mr. Fiala said.
An internal referendum of the Social Democrats on whether to go into
government with ANO will run from May 21 until June 14, party officials
said. The results will be published on June 15. Chairman Jan Hamáček said
that prior to the vote the names of the party’s nominees for the five
portfolios the Social Democrats should get in the cabinet will be
ANO leader Andrej Babiš says if the Social Democrats do not approve a coalition of the two parties one option could be early elections to take place in May next year at the same time as elections to the European Parliament.
If a deal between ANO and the Social Democrats is signed, their minority coalition would likely be supported in key votes by the Communist Party, who would be playing a role in government for the first time since 1989. For their part, the Communists say they would not back a government that expanded US military missions abroad.