The chairman of the lower house of parliament, Radek Vondráček (ANO),
announced on Wednesday he will pay a 10-day official visit to United States
during which he plans to stress the importance of transatlantic ties and
commemorate the centenary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.
Mr Vondráček, who will be in the US from July 16 to July 25, said he had been invited to visit the US House of Representatives by his American counterpart, Paul Ryan (Republican).
In March, Mr Ryan had visited the Czech Republic while on vacation, but nonetheless during his semi-official visit addressed the parliament, where he stressed the importance of bilateral ties and solidarity among NATO members.
President Miloš Zeman expressed his support for the ANO-Social Democrat
minority coalition in a speech at the lower house of Parliament ahead of
Wednesday’s confidence vote in Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s
He praised the government’s programme statement, in particular its call for a 10-year investment program into infrastructure, both at the municipal and national level.
Ahead of President Zeman’s speech and formal debate, MPs from the conservative opposition party TOP 09 left the chamber to protest the fact that in exchange for their toleration of his government, Mr Babiš has made policy concessions to the Communists.
Another opposition party, the Christian Democrats, protested by unrolling a banner featuring the Soviet red star and declaring they would vote against any government relying on Communist support.
Despite rising wages and low unemployment, only 53% of Czechs aged 30 or
over are “satisfied” with their financial situation, according to a new
STEM / MARK poll commissioned by Globus hypermarkets.
More men than women said they were “satisfied”, at 58% and 48%, respectively. Those figures are about 10 percentage points higher among people of both sexes who have a university degree, the poll found.
The average gross monthly wage in the Czech Republic rose by 8.6% in the first quarter of this year to CZK 30,265. Adjusted for inflation, real wages grew by 6.6% in annual terms.
Consumer prices in June rose 2.6% year on year, driven by higher costs for
fuel, electricity, and household rent, the Czech Statistical Office said on
Wednesday. Prices for telecommunications, clothing and heating fell in
annual terms. Inflation has accelerated for a third consecutive month,
following a growth rate of 2.2% y/y in May.
Some analysts predict the Czech National Bank will again intervene to stem inflation by increasing key interest rates. On 27 June, the central bank raised rates for a fourth time in just under a year, setting the two-week repo rate a 1% from 0.75%.
The country’s economy continues to accelerate and record-low unemployment is pushing up wages. Another unexpectedly strong inflationary factor has been the weakening of the crown against major world currencies. The crown is now at its lowest level against the euro in nearly a year, at CZK 25.9/EUR.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic fell to 2.9 percent in June, down from
3.0 percent the previous month, according to official figures released on
Wednesday. In June last year the jobless rate stood at 4.0 percent.
The number of jobless last month was the lowest since July 1997, while number of vacant posts climbed last month to over 301,500.
A minority coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats is set to undergo a
vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday. Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš’s government will in all probability pass that necessary
test after the ANO leader brokered a deal with the Communist Party under
which they will back the coalition during key votes.
President Miloš Zeman is due to attend the lower house session to express his support for the new government, whose formation he has long advocated.
With the agreement to prop up the coalition the Communists have acquired a share of power at national level for the first time since 1989.
ANO won elections in October but saw a first attempt at forming a single-party government fail when it lost a confidence vote earlier this year.
President Miloš Zeman appointed Jan Kněžínek as minister of justice on
Tuesday afternoon. He was nominated to the post by Prime Minister Andrej
Babiš of ANO. Mr. Kněžínek has hitherto served as deputy chairman of
the government’s legislative council.
The move comes a day after ANO appointment Taťána Malá said she was quitting as minister of justice after less than a fortnight in the post. She had been accused of plagiarising part of her university thesis.
A coalition between ANO and the Social Democrats will undergo a confidence vote on Wednesday. The Communists will support the minority government on key votes.
President Miloš Zeman has appointed 40 new judges nominated by a former
minister of justice, Robert Pelikán. In a ceremony at Prague Castle, the
head of state told the judges that while ministers came and went the court
system remained. Mr. Zeman also warned the judges against journalists, who
he described as wasps.
Breaking with tradition a minister of justice was not present at Tuesday’s ceremony in view of the fact that the post is currently unoccupied following the resignation of Taťána Malá.
Representatives of ANO and the Social Democrats have signed a coalition
deal between the two parties, a day before their joint minority government
undergoes the necessary vote of confidence in the lower house. Also on
Tuesday ANO and the Communist Party put their signatures to a deal under
which the latter have agreed to tolerate the new government.
Opposition parties have criticised the head of ANO, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, for allowing the Communists to have a share of power for the first time since the Velvet Revolution in 1989. They say a different government could have been formed if Mr. Babiš, who is facing criminal charges, had stood aside.
All parties but ANO, the Social Democrats and the Communists say they will vote against the new coalition when it undergoes a confidence vote in the lower house on Wednesday.