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.
As the dust settles in the wake of the European elections individual parties and movements are counting their political and financial gains and losses. The latter has little to do with the given entity’s political success, but depends largely on how much the party or movement spent on campaigning and whether they won enough votes to get a contribution from the state. In line with Czech law every party or movement that wins over 1 percent voter support gets 30 crowns for every vote collected.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s centre-right ANO party “won” the European Parliament elections this weekend. Their junior coalition partner, the centre-left Social Democrats clearly “lost”. Those are the newspaper headlines. But, as always, the political landscape is more nuanced. Mr Babiš’s foes in the main opposition parties together will have twice as many MEPs, at a time when he is under investigation for alleged EU subsidy fraud.
The Pirate Party plans to sue the European Commission for failing to decide
on complaints over the alleged conflict of interests of Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš (ANO) regarding EU subsidies to the holding Agrofert.
The European Commission has conducted an extensive audit at Czech ministries regarding the subsidies amounting to some two billion crowns for Agrofert, which Mr Babiš founded but has placed in trusts.
Transparency International warned of Mr Babiš’s possible conflict of interest last year, saying he continued to benefit from the holding despite. Czech authorities were set to receive the results of the audit in mid-May.
The Pirates said in a press release on Friday it will file its suit at the European Court of Justice. The opposition party says the European Commission should have decided on the matter already in January and claims it is giving Mr Babiš preferential treatment.
Police President Jan Švejdar has said he considers cooperation between the
Pirate Party and an officer from the National Centre Against Organized
Crime absolutely unacceptable.
In a statement on Twitter the police president said that if it were confirmed that Jan Šmíd, a member of this special force, had cooperated with the Pirate Party he would be sacked.
The ruling ANO Party which brought attention to the alleged close cooperation between Šmíd and the Pirate Party, expressed concern regarding possible information leaks and asked the Security Committee of the Chamber of Deputies to look into the matter.
The committee is due to meet on May 21st.
European far-right leaders, including Marine Le Pen of France and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, gathered in Prague on Thursday for private meetings and a public rally in support of Czech politician Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy party, or the SPD. The fiercely anti-immigrant, Eurosceptic party is the fourth-largest in the Czech lower house and aims to win its first seats in the European Parliament in May.
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.
Weeks after his expulsion from the Civic Democrats, anti-EU MP Václav Klaus Jr. has revealed plans to launch a new party following May’s Euro elections. His father, the well-known former prime minister and president Václav Klaus, is set to occupy an honorary role in the new grouping. I discussed the politics and prospects of “Young Klaus” – as many call him in Czech – with political scientist Petr Just.
The Prague City Hall coalition is due to meet on Friday to discuss a controversial proposal to collect anonymous data from electricity meters to identify vacant housing units. Mayor Zdeněk Hřib of the Pirate Party, which is behind the move, says despite alarm calls by his coalition partners, the intention was never to try to identify the owners of vacant properties – whether ‘foreign speculators’ or local investors – in order to tax them.
Czech media and advertising tycoon Jaromír Soukup has formally registered
a political movement bearing his name with the stated aim of “defending
national interests against corrupt politicians and oligarchs”.
A spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, which handles such requests, on Wednesday confirmed the registration of the movement, called List Jaromíra Soukupa.
Mr Soukup hosts a popular talk show on the private cable channel TV Barrandov, which he took over in 2012. Critics say it panders to voters of populist and extreme right-wing parties and politicians.