Three and a half months after the official forming of Andrej Babiš’s cabinet, the Czech foreign ministry has received a full-time leader. Until now, Jan Hamáček, who is minister of the interior, had been in temporary charge. In a move that is widely understood as a political compromise, the new man in charge is Tomáš Petříček, the previous candidate’s assistant.
Czech Prime Minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš travelled to Warsaw
on Monday to visit the headquarters of the European Border and Coast Guard
Agency, Frontex, which he says should focus mainly on returning migrants to
the country of origin or to the transit states.
Babiš has recently criticized the European Commission’s plans to increase funding for Frontex, arguing that it amounts to duplicating European security structures and boosting an agency that has not proven very effective.
In Warsaw he also met his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki. Among the topics on their agenda was the upcoming EU summit in Brussels and migration. They also agreed on the need to help source countries of migration improve conditions at home.
The Civic Democrats and the Mayors and Independents gained 10 and seven seats, respectively, in elections to one-third of seats in the Senate that concluded at the weekend. In stark contrast, governing parties ANO and the Social Democrats won only one mandate apiece. Though ANO’s poor showing has vexed leader Andrej Babiš, the outcome was not unexpected, says political scientist Petr Just.
The communal and senatorial elections were seen as a test of strength of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’ ANO party, which has dominated Czech national politics since winning last year’s parliamentary elections by a large margin. Although ANO scored in 11 big cities, its loss in the Czech capital, which Babiš considered all-important, has soured the party’s victory.
Politicians must work together to build trust in democratic governance and
fight growing support for protest and anti-establishment parties and
groupings not just in Europe but the world over, Deputy Foreign Minister
Tomáš Petříček said at the international conference Forum 2,000
currently underway in Prague.
Petříček said liberal democracy was still the best system of governance created by mankind, but it would have to be more efficient and faster in dealing with problems in order to regain trust.
He added that Czech politicians who had experienced the communist regime had a duty to keep reminding society that freedom and democracy were not to be taken for granted and must be defended and protected at all times.
President Miloš Zeman is to appoint Tomáš Petříček foreign minister
on October 16th, the president’s spokesman announced on Monday.
Although the appointment had been expected already this week, it was reportedly postponed due to the fact that the president will be travelling to Slovakia to attend a Visegrad Group summit in Bratislava.
The Czech foreign ministry has been run on a temporary basis by Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Jan Hamáček, after President Zeman refused to appoint the Social Democrat’s previous nominee Miroslav Poche to the post.
The Ano party of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has won the municipal elections in all regional capitals except Prague – where the opposition Civic Democrats and Pirates took first and second, respectively – and Liberec. The big losers of the day, in both the municipal and Senate races, were the Social Democrats and Communists.
The Ano party of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has won the municipal
elections in all but two regional capitals, including Prague, where the
opposition Civic Democrats and Pirates took first and second, respectively.
More than 47 percent of eligible voters nationwide cast ballots in the municipal elections that took place on Friday and Saturday, three percentage points more than in 2014. For the Senate race, turnout reached 42 percent. It was the first popular test for the minority government of Ano and the Social Democrats formed in July.
Although the Civic Democrats won the capital, they could be frozen out of power. The initiative Praha Sobě and the Joint Forces for Prague (Top 09, Party of Mayors and Independents, and Christian Democrats) are looking to negotiate with the Pirates.
Nationwide, traditionally a variety of local associations of independent candidates have won the most seats in the municipal elections.
A second round of voting in the Senate elections takes place October 12-13, for contestants who fail to win 50 percent of the vote in the first round.
The Social Democrats will have only five candidates for the upper house of Parliament in the second round, not enough to retain the 12 seats it was defending in the vote, meaning the party will likely lose the coveted post of Senate speaker.
A total of 216,000 candidates ran for around 62,000 seats in city and local councils. There were 236 candidates vying for one of the 27 vacant seats in the Senate.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has assessed the work of his cabinet after the
first 100 days in office. At a press conference on Thursday, he said that
the minority government of the ANO party and the Social Democrats has
reached many achievements.
Among other things he mentioned the state budget for 2019 and the increase of pensions and salaries.
Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček said that his party’s decision to join the government has proved to be the right one. He also said that the coalition agreement ended a nine-month period of instability following the parliamentary election.
The European Council on Tuesday approved a proposal that will allow EU member states that have a problem with carousel tax fraud to apply a generalized reversal of VAT liability. This is something Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has fought for for four and a half years on the argument that use of reverse charge could save the EU a large part of the around 170 billion euros lost every year in unpaid VAT.