Representatives of the Pirate Party, the civic movement Praha sobě and the
Allied Forces for Prague (comprising TOP 09, the Christian Democrats and
Mayors and Independents) which have been in talks on forming a new Prague
government signed a coalition agreement and policy program statement on
Zdeněk Hřib of the Pirate Party is to be the new mayor of Prague.
The Civic Democrats, who won the communal elections in Prague, were by-passed and will go into the opposition.
Czech Pirate Party leader Ivan Bartoš and Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of
ANO have clashed over a recent trip to Russia by ANO’s lower house
speaker, Radek Vondráček. Speaking on a Czech Television discussion show
on Sunday, Mr. Bartoš said information was lacking about the trip as no
Czech journalists had been invited to take part.
For his part, Mr. Babiš said his party colleague had gained respect on the trip to Russia, where he had brought up the poisoning of the Skripals. Mr. Bartoš said speaking about Novichok was insufficient; only a Russian apology for its use would amount to genuine partnership, he said.
While in Moscow Mr. Vondráček met two local politicians who are on EU and US sanctions lists. The lower house speaker headed the first official visit to Russia by Czech MPs in a decade.
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.
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.
Whereas in 1990 there were eight Roma MPs in the Czechoslovak Parliment, today there are none and candidates who belong to the minority have not had much success in the recent communal elections either. Although individual cases of success exist, they are extremely rare. Reasons behind the lack of Roma representation in politics include negative cononations with the minority among majority voters, a lack of popular candidates and low election participation among members of the Roma minority themselves.
The Pirate Party and civic movement Praha Sobě are due to formally discuss
on Wednesday who should be their candidate for Lord Mayor of the Czech
Although the Civic Democrats won the elections, the centre-right party does not have enough mandates alone to push through own of their own – while, together, the Pirates and Praha Sobě do.
As a party, the Pirates got more votes in the municipal elections and so should get the position, argues Prague chapter head Zdeněk Hřib, who is gunning for the position.
But on an individual level, Praha sobě leader Jan Čižinský was the voters’ clear favourite, and while he isn’t insisting that he be the nominee, he is likewise keen on it.
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.
Coalition talks on the set-up of local councils are taking place around the
country in the wake of the weekend communal elections.
ANO, which won in all the big cities with the exception of Prague and Liberec, is consolidating its position in the other municipalities.
In Prague, the Pirates Party, which came a close second, after the Civic Democrats, is negotiating a possible coalition deal with TOP 09, the Mayors and Independents and the new grouping Praha sobě.
It has offered the said parties four seats each on the council, while it would take two and the post of Prague mayor.