The leadership of the Communist Party has appealed to the government to
prevent the removal of the controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan
Konev from its site in Prague 6.
In a resolution approved at a meeting of the party leadership on Saturday, the party says it disagrees with the decision of the Prague 6 authorities to replace the controversial statue with a new monument to the liberators of Prague in 1945. It says that with respect to historic events the government should ensure that the statue be allowed to remain in its rightful place.
The decision to remove the statue from its present site and find a suitable new location for it has angered the Russian authorities, who issued a statement on Friday warning Prague the act would damage Czech-Russian relations and would not go unanswered.
An opinion survey suggests that for the first time since the fall of
communism in 1989, the Communist Party could fall below the five percent
threshold needed to win seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
According to the August survey, conducted by the KANTAR agency, the Communist Party would gain just 4.5 percent of the vote. Party leader Vojtěch Filip dismissed the poll as unreliable, saying that on many past occasions the Communist Party had been “written off” in surveys, but the end result was always different.
The poll suggests that the ruling ANO party would win the elections with 30 percent support, followed by the Pirate Party with 17 percent and the Civic Democrats with 14.5 percent.
The leader of the Communists, Vojtěch Filip, says his party would be
willing to support a reconstructed minority government led by Andrej Babiš
of ANO, if the Social Democrats quit the current coalition. Speaking in an
interview for Novinky.cz, he said, however, that the Communist Party
actually entering government was out of the question.
Mr. Filip said the current government had won a vote of confidence and the prime minister would have no reason to step down if the Social Democrats left.
If the junior coalition party quits, there have been suggestions that Mr. Babiš could attempt to continue ruling with the support of the Communists, Freedom and Direct Democracy and some MPs elected as Social Democrats who are at odds with the party’s leadership.
The upper house of Czech Parliament voted in favour of a proposal for a
constitutional complaint against President Miloš Zeman. The proposal
received 48 votes on Wednesday, while 20 senators voted against and 7
abstained. If the proposal also receives support from the majority of the
lower house, it will reach the constitutional court. However, this is
unlikely, due to the ruling ANO-Social Democrat coalition, supported by the
Communist Party, holding a majority in the Chamber of Deputies. The Freedom
and Direct Democracy Party, which seems likely to support the president as
well, controls a further 19 seats.
The impulse for the draft complaint is the alleged influencing of the judiciary by President Zeman and his staff. The president’s recent unwillingness to accept the resignation of Culture Minister Antonín Staněk has also been added into the complaint.
In mid-June President Zeman dismissed the accusation, saying that it was a sign of constitutional illiteracy.
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.
If the Social Democrats quit the government and the cabinet is
reconstructed, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO would not need to seek a
fresh vote of confidence, the Communist Party’s Vojtěch Filip said on
Tuesday. Mr. Filip said the Social Democrats had around a third of the
seats in cabinet, meaning it would not be a major change.
The Communist Party chief said if other parties disagreed with this they could seek a vote of no-confidence. The Babiš government survived such a show of hands for the second time two weeks ago.
The Social Democrats are threatening to pull out of the coalition over the refusal of ANO leader Babiš to force the president to accept the resignation of the party’s arts minister.
On Thursday it will be one year since the appointment of the minority government of ANO and the Social Democrats. Much attention is focused on Andrej Babiš, who police have recommended face criminal prosecution. However, the prime minister's problems don't seem to have dented ANO’s popularity with the party’s base. I asked political scientist Petr Just for his assessment of the cabinet’s first 12 months.
The minority coalition government of embattled Prime Minister Andrej Babiš relies on the support of the Communists, giving the largely unreformed, pro-Moscow, anti-NATO party a political say for the first time since 1989. In exchange for its tolerance, the Communists have won some major policy concessions, and party chairman Vojtěch Filip seems increasingly determined to scupper a deal to buy US military helicopters to replace the Czech Army’s ageing fleet.
A controversial proposal to tax money paid to religious groups in compensation for property seized under Communism is a step closer to becoming law. In their first session since the Easter holiday, MPs on Tuesday overrode a veto by the Senate to tax the restitution income of 16 Czech churches and a Jewish federation.
A Communist Party bill aiming to tax church restitutions hit the rocks in the Senate on Wednesday where the vast majority of senators rejected it as “unconstitutional“. The bill was rejected not just by the opposition parties but by nine senators from the ruling ANO and Social Democratic Party which helped to push it through the lower house.