The Communist Party leadership is due to meet with representatives of the
ANO party on Tuesday to assess to what extent the minority government of
ANO and the Social Democrats is fulfilling the tolerance agreement with the
Communists which has enabled it to govern.
The Communist Party has tolerated the government in return for policy concessions and support for its own stated policy priorities, such as a tax on church restitutions and increased expenditures in the social sphere.
The Communist Party has so far shown no indication that it might withdraw this support over the scandals surrounding the prime minister or the drawn-out crisis concerning the culture minister.
The opposition parties have criticized the drawn-out political conflict,
calling it a theatre of the absurd and arguing that the present government
is harming the country’s interests by a never–ending series of scandals
that prevents it from focussing on the country’ real problems.
The head of the Pirate Party, Ivan Bartoš, says it is not the culture minister who is at the core of the problem, but Prime Minister Andrej Babiš who is suspected of EU subsidy fraud and unwilling to stand up to the president.
Miroslav Kalousek, head of the TOP 09 deputies group in the lower house, argues that the present head of state has no respect for the Constitution and is being left to do as he will.
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.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Wednesday announced the details of a planned cabinet reshuffle. Trade and Industry Minister Marta Nováková will be leaving her post at the end of the month, together with Transport Minister Dan Ťok, who is leaving office at his own request following fierce criticism from opposition deputies. I asked political analyst Jiří Pehe about the timing of the reshuffle and the reasons behind it.
The ANO party of the ruling coalition would win general elections, if they
were held today, according to a survey conducted by the CVVM agency.
ANO would get 30 percent of the vote, followed by the opposition Pirate Party and the Civic Democrats which would both get 15 percent.
The Social Democrats would come fourth with 11 percent, just ahead of the Communist Party which would get 10 percent.
The only other parties which stand a chance of crossing the five percent threshold needed to win seats in the lower house are the Christian Democrats, the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party and the Mayors and Independents.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has been re-elected chairman of the ANO party that he founded seven years ago, running unopposed at the party’s congress on Sunday. Polls show Mr. Babiš remains the most popular, trusted politician in parliament, and ANO would win general elections if held today. So, what direction is he looking to take the party – and the country?
Czechs on Saturday marked the 29th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that triggered the fall of communism in 1989. Traditionally the anniversary was marked by public gatherings, concerts, marches and cultural events, but this year public discontent with the political situation brought a tense atmosphere to the celebrations.
The broader leadership of the Social Democrats has given its backing to
chairman, Jan Hamáček, who came under pressure following poor results for
the party in recent Senate and local elections. Mr. Hamáček – who took
the helm in March of this year – had asked to face vote of confidence at
a party meeting in Hradec Králové; nobody raised their hand against him
in Saturday’s poll, though three delegates abstained.
The Social Democrats’ second in command, Jiří Zimola, had also asked to have his position put to a vote of confidence on Saturday but in the end it did not take place.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has gone back on a promise to implement a Code of Ethics for cabinet ministers, instructing the Ministry of Justice to stop work on draft guidelines and focus instead on a new lobbying law. Advocates for greater transparency in government see it as a blow to the fight against corruption.