Government leaders ANO would have won elections in November with 29.5
percent of the vote, virtually the same as they achieved in the last
general elections, suggests a freshly released CVVM poll. Most respondents
answered the survey prior to November 12, when a scandal surrounding ANO
leader Andrej Babiš’s son broke.
The Civic Democrats placed second in the poll on 14.5 percent, just ahead of the Czech Pirate Party on 14.0 percent. Some 10.0 percent of those surveyed would have cast their ballots for the Communists, with 9.0 percent backing the Social Democrats, the junior party in the governing coalition. Freedom and Direct Democracy would achieve 7.5 percent, the poll indicated.
Thousands of people demonstrated in central Prague on Friday evening,
calling for the resignation of Andrej Babiš’s ANO-led government. The
crowd gathered at Prague Castle and marched to Old Town Square, which was
almost full, repeating the scene at a similar demonstration on November 17.
The event was organised by Milion chvilek, a group that has held a number
of protests against Mr. Babiš’s this year.
The gathering took place shortly after the ANO government survived, as anticipated, a no-confidence vote. It was tabled by the opposition over a scandal surround Mr. Babiš’s son, who says he was taken to Crimea against his will so as not to be available to answer questions in an investigation involving the PM and alleged corruption.
The chief of the General Staff of the Czech Army, Aleš Opata, visited
Czech troops in Iraq and Mali between Wednesday and Friday. In Iraq General
Opata met instructors from the Czech chemical forces, military police and
regular police, as well as flying instructors teaching local pilots in the
use of Czech-made jets.
While in Mali the Czech Army chief met soldiers in the capital Bamako tasked with providing protection to a European Union training mission, a spokesperson for the General Staff told the Czech News Agency.
The government of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has, as expected,
survived a no-confidence vote in parliament. Ninety-two MPs voted for the
measure, 90 voted against it, and 18 abstained. To pass, 101 votes were
The vote took place after over seven hours of at times heated and emotional debate. It was called by the opposition due to fraud allegations against Mr Babiš involving EU subsidies, triggered by an interview his son gave claiming he had been “kidnapped” so he would not talk to investigators.
Mr Babiš’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats, skipped the vote to allow the government to survive. But they want Mr Babiš to resign. He is refusing to do so.
“I have no reason to resign,” he told lawmakers in an emotional speech before the vote. “You either have to dismiss me or try to defeat me in free, democratic elections. You cannot get rid of me in any other way than through the one based on the will of the citizens.”
Mr Babiš condemned what he called the “lies” being spread about the kidnapping or coerced disappearance of his son, Andrej Babiš Jr., who he says was in Russian-occupied Crimea at the time in question of his own free will.
Mr Babiš called the whole thing a “pseudo-affair” and again accused journalists of exploiting his son’s psychological condition to obtain what he called “a false and unethical report.”
Earlier in the week, Social Democratic party leader Jan Hamáček said it would be best if the prime minister stepped down.
“The prime minister’s personal problems are burdening the government and we lobbied hard for a change of prime minister, but the ANO party is categorically against that. So by abstaining from the vote we are acknowledging the problem, but our priority is to continue in this government and to implement our policy programme”, Hamáček said.
The only way to bring about a change of prime minister, Hamáček said, was via a motion to dissolve parliament and hold early elections, which his party was ready to support if 120 votes could be found for such a solution in the lower house.
Mr Babiš’s ANO party remains the most popular. A survey published on Friday by the pollster CVVM show ANO would win elections now with about 30 percent of the vote. However, that poll was conducted before the current crisis peaked and so does not fully reflect its potential impact on party preferences, CVVM said.
A separate poll by the Median agency taken last week showed that most Czechs (57 percent) believe Babiš tried to keep his children from testifying in the corruption case against him over EU subsidies to the Stork’s Next complex.
The poll was taken after the publication of an interview on November 12 with Andrej Babiš Jr, who said he had been “kidnapped” and taken to Crimea because his father wanted him to “disappear” while the investigation into EU subsidy fraud was underway.
Mr Babiš says his son, who now lives in Switzerland, is mentally ill and that the allegations are nonsense. The prime minister also says his daughter is bipolar and so her testimony would be unreliable.
Czech scientists are preparing for a research trip to the Amazon Forest to
study a hallucinogenic drink used by indigenous South American people,
known as “ayahuasca iowaska” or “yagé” for short.
The Czech team will be led by neuroscientist and leading researcher of psychoactive substances Tomáš Páleníček of the National Institute of Mental Health.
Yagé is used by people in the Amazon River basin in spiritual rituals and is believed to have for the healing properties. Under clinical conditions, its therapeutic effects have been demonstrated on people suffering from depression.
However, the long-term effects of yagé on the brain have not been studied, according to Páleníček.
Kurt Taussig, a Czech Jewish child sent to Britain on one of the famed
kindertransport trains organised by Sir Nicholas Winton ahead of WWII, has
been granted honorary citizenship in Teplice, his birthplace, at the age of
Sir Winton saved the lives of 669 Jewish children, including Kurt Taussig, through the kindertransports. In total, the descendants of Sir Winton's rescued children today number around 6,000 people.
About one in six children on those trains later fought in uniform against Hitler as adults. Taussig, who left Teplice at age 15, went on to fight the Nazis as a pilot with a Czechoslovak unit under RAF command.
The new Prague City Council is looking into investing some 80 million euros
from the municipal budget into creating new car parks and parking spaces in
the Czech capital.
Adam Scheinherr, the city’s Councillor for Transport, said solving the parking problem is among the Prague City Council’s priorities.
Vladimír Tomšík, the deputy governor of the Czech National Bank, is in
line to become the country’s next ambassador to China, pending approval
This according to an interview with President Miloš Zeman published Friday
by the daily Mladá fronta Dnes.
The current Czech Ambassador to China, Bedřich Kopecký, is reportedly being pushed out for having signed on to a call by diplomats from other EU countries, as well as Australia, Canada, Japan and Switzerland, for Beijing to respect human rights.
Ahead of Friday’s no-confidence vote in his government, Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš said in an emotional speech before parliament that the
“lies” journalists had spread about the “kidnapping” or coerced
disappearance of his son had trigged the vote, and he has no intention of
The opposition had initiated the vote following Mr Babiš’s son saying in an interview that he was deliberately kept abroad to avoid him being questioned about his father’s alleged illegal use of EU subsidies worth about 2 million euro. The Czech prime minister insists that his son is mentally ill and went to Crimea during the period in question of his own free will.
The no-confidence vote is due to fail as the junior coalition party, the Social Democrats, will abstain from the vote, and the opposition is nine votes short of the 101 needed for the move to pass. However, the Social Democrats are calling for Mr. Babiš to resign and for another member of his ANO party to take up the post.
In his speech to the lower house, Mr Babiš said he would never step down over this “pseudo-affair” and again accused journalists of exploiting his son’s condition to obtain what he called “a false and unethical report.”
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