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22-10-2017

Communists first as ANO begin talks ahead of coalition formation

ANO have begun holding talks with other parties with a view to forming a new coalition government. Czech Television reported that ANO’s negotiating team, headed by party chief Andrej Babiš, had held the first such negotiations with the leader of the Communists, Vojtěch Filip, and other representatives of the party. The Communist leader said he had not discussed forming a coalition with ANO as the two parties' outlooks were so far apart.

Leaders of the Mayors and Independents also spoke to ANO on Sunday, though they said the focus was solely on the composition of the Chamber of Deputies. The Social Democrats are reported to be meeting ANO on Sunday evening.

ANO scored almost 30 percent of the vote in the general elections. Speaking after their landslide victory, Mr. Babiš said he was surprised his party had done so well and said he hoped President Miloš Zeman would charge him with forming a government.

In an interview with iDnes.cz, Mr. Babiš said his party was closest to the Civic Democrats, the Mayors and Independents group and the Czech Pirate Party. He said some elements of the programme of Freedom and Direct Democracy were also acceptable to ANO.

However, the heads of many other parties have expressed reluctance to enter a coalition headed by Mr. Babiš in view of the fact that he is facing criminal charges of abusing EU subsidies.

For his part, the ANO chief said the biggest problem in running the Czech state was coalition forming. He said it was a pity that the country did not have a majority electoral system that would allow for the effective functioning of the state and the government.

Mr. Babiš said, however, that changing the current system of proportional representation would not be priority for his party in negotiations on forming a new cabinet.

Zeman to charge Babiš with establishing new government

President Miloš Zeman says he will charge ANO’s Andrej Babiš with forming a new government after the party scored a resounding victory in elections to the Chamber of Deputies. Mr. Zeman told the site Blesk.cz that he would change his outlook on the matter only if Mr. Babiš were uninterested in becoming head of government.

The president said he wished to help in the creation of a stable coaltion. He is due to meet ANO leader for the pair’s first post-election talks at his Lány residence near Prague on Monday. Responding to descriptions of Mr. Babiš in the international media, Mr. Zeman said he was not a populist but a pragmatist.

Faltýnek: Number of parties may complicate coalition formation

Following ANO’s major victory in the Czech general elections, the party’s deputy leader Jaroslav Faltýnek says they will do their best to reach agreement on forming a new coalition government as quickly as possible. Speaking in a TV debate hours after his party scored almost 30 percent in the elections, Mr. Faltýnek said, however, that coming to an arrangement would probably be more difficult given the high number of parties that made it into the lower house.

A record nine groupings crossed the five-percent threshold for election, including two, the Czech Pirate Party and Freedom and Direct Democracy, that have never been in the Chamber of Deputies before. Three parties scraped in on less than six percent.

Mr. Faltýnek said it was a good thing that President Miloš Zeman had set the latest date possible – 30 days from the election – to call the first session of the new lower house. This creates space for debate, the ANO deputy leader said.

Two outgoing ministers fail to win lower house seats

Two ministers in the outgoing Czech cabinet have failed to win election to the Chamber of Deputies. Neither the Social Democrat minister of labour and social affairs, Michaela Marksová, nor the Christian Democrat minister of culture, Daniel Herman, won mandates in the general elections.

Jan Mládek, who was industry and trade minister for the Social Democrats until February, also failed to get in.

Meanwhile, the new Chamber of Deputies will get its youngest ever member with Dominik Feri of TOP 09. Mr. Feri, who was elected onto the council in Teplice at 18, is aged 21. The oldest fresly elected MP is his party colleague Karel Schwarzenberg, 79.

The average age of MPs in the new lower house will be 47.5 years, two years younger than in the outgoing one. The number of women in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies has risen by five to 44.

Stropnický quits as Greens leader after poor election result

Matěj Stropnický has resigned as leader of the Green Party after the party’s poor showing in the general elections. The Greens received only 1.5 percent of the vote. Another former party leader, Jana Drápalová, called for current deputy chairman Michal Berg to stand for the grouping’s top post at a congress in January.

The Greens were present in the lower house between 2006 and 2010 but have failed to get back in since. Matěj Stropnický is the son of the ANO politician Martin Stropnický.

Prague fare dodgers to get lower fines – if they buy yearly pass

Those caught using the Prague public transport system without tickets will be able to pay lower fines from Monday, under a new regulation. The regular fine of CZK 800 crowns will be reduced to CZK 400 on the condition that the fare dodger provides evidence within two weeks that they have purchased a yearly pass at a price of CZK 3,650.

The city’s transport authority is introducing the new fines scheme as a trial until the end of January 2018.

Weather forecast

It should be overcast and wet in the Czech Republic on Monday, with temperatures of up to around 10 degrees Celsius expected. The weather is likely to remain unchanged throughout the first half of the week.

22-10-2017