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Social Democrat leadership confirm end of coalition talks

The leadership of the Social Democratic Party has confirmed party leader Jan Hamáček’s decision to end negotiations with ANO on a minority coalition government supported by the Communists.

The talks collapsed late on Thursday over a division of government portfolios.

The Social Democrat leader decided to end the talks after ANO refused to let his party head the Interior Ministry –a demand that was to help the Social Democrats come to terms with ANO’s insistence on the cabinet being headed by Andrej Babiš who is charged with EU subsidy fraud.

The outgoing prime minister said he would request a meeting with President Miloš Zeman to discuss the situation.

Opposition party leader says someone other than Babiš should get chance to form government

If the country’s prime minister in resignation Andrej Babiš is unable to form a viable government, capable of getting a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, someone else should be given the chance, Petr Fiala – the head of the second-largest party in the lower house, the Civic Democrats – has said.

His words were in response to the news late Thursday that talks between Mr Babiš’ ANO and the Social Democrats on forming a minority government with tacit support from the Communists had collapsed.

Although the prime minister offered the Social Democrats five seats in the government, ANO were unwilling to let go key ministries like Finance or the Interior.

The Social Democrats had specifically asked for the Interior Ministry to balance the fact the prime minister is charged with EU subsidy fraud.

Communists will wait for ANO to make first move

The Communist Party will wait for the winners of the election last October, ANO, to take the next step before considering possible support for an ANO-led minority government. Talks between ANO and the Social Democrats ended on Thursday when party representatives were unable to agree on key posts in the new cabinet.

Communist Party leader Vojtěch Filip suggested the collapse could have been avoided, had the Communists played the role of mediator. Any ANO and Social Democrat government would still lack a majority of seats and would have to lean on the Communist Party for support in a confidence vote and in passing legislation.

According to Filip, who wants to meet with the president, the Social Democrats had demanded too much; the party is willing to continue negotiations but was equally prepared for the possibility of early elections, he said.

Defense minister visits Czech troops in Iraq

Outgoing Czech Defense Minister Karla Šlechtová on Thursday visited Czech troops serving in Iraq, the Defense Ministry reported on its web page. The visit was kept low profile for security reasons.

The Czech Republic currently has three military units in the country involved in training Iraqi military police, training pilots flying Czech L-159 fighter planes and anti-chemical warfare instructors.

The Czech government is due to debate Czech participation in foreign military missions next week. Minister Šlechtová has proposed increasing the number of troops serving in Iraq from the present 60 to 110 over the next two years.

Poll: Majority of Czechs would not want a drug addict or alcoholic for a neighbour

A majority of Czechs say they wouldn’t want to have drug addicts, alcoholics, or individuals with criminal pasts as their neighbours, according to a new poll by the CVVM agency conducted in the month of March. Eighty-seven percent said they would not tolerate having drug addicts next door, 73 percent said they couldn’t live next to an alcoholic, and 72 percent, next to someone with a criminal record. Sixty-one percent said they would have an issue with living next to someone with mental illness (a drop of nine percent compared to the previous survey).

Thirty-one percent of those polled said they wouldn’t like to live next to a foreigner or someone with a different skin colour. More than 1,000 people took part in the survey.

Football: Čech, Arsenal, down CSKA 4:1

London football club Arsenal downed opponents CSKA Moscow on Thursday night by a score of 4:1 in their first leg match-up in the quarterfinals of the Europa League. Petr Čech was in goal for the Gunners, his first appearance in the Europa League this season after the team’s designated goalkeeper for the competition, David Ospina, suffered an ankle injury.

The second leg of the quarterfinal is in Moscow in a week’s time.

Weather

Saturday should be sunny; daytime temperatures should reach around 17 degrees Celsius.