New government sworn in but doubts remain over its viability

A new coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats has just been sworn in by the president at Prague Castle. The appointment comes eight months after ANO triumphed in general elections and follows months of talks. But clouds may already be on the horizon for Andrej Babiš’s second government.

A new coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats has just been sworn in by the president at Prague Castle, photo: ČTK/Kamaryt MichalA new coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats has just been sworn in by the president at Prague Castle, photo: ČTK/Kamaryt Michal There was a mix of familiar and new faces at Wednesday morning’s swearing-in ceremony at Prague Castle. Several of the ministers had served in Andrej Babiš’s first, ANO-only government, which failed to win the necessary confidence vote.

This time ANO nominees were joined by representatives of the Social Democrats, who after many months of negotiations agreed to enter a coalition with Mr. Babiš’s party.

The new-old prime minister looked to President Miloš Zeman when he delivered the following words during Wednesday’s swearing-in.

“I promise you, and primarily all citizens, that our government will fight for our people’s security, first and foremost. Not only in our country: Above all we will fight against illegal migration and for our interests in Europe… Our nation’s potential is enormous. We have what it takes to return to the top in Europe, to where we were under Masaryk. Thank you.”

Andrej Babiš, Miloš Zeman, photo: ČTK/Krumphanzl MichalAndrej Babiš, Miloš Zeman, photo: ČTK/Krumphanzl Michal ANO and the Social Democrats have only 93 mandates between them in the 200-seat lower house and their coalition is posited on backing from the Communist Party, starting with a confidence vote a fortnight from now.

After releasing a set of conditions for support, the Communists have recently been making fresh demands, raising doubts as to their intentions.

However, political scientist Petr Just says he believes the Communists will ultimately back the coalition.

“It’s also in their interest. It’s the first time in post-1989 history when a government can be, or actually has to be, dependent on the Communists’ votes.

“They know it very well and they also want to use this situation for their advantage.”

If we assume that the Communists get on board and do support this government, what do you think the outlook is for this coalition?

“We’ve seen several signs – and now even, surprisingly, coming from the president – that there might be early elections, sooner or later.

“They’ve already mentioned that they could be in October this year, together with the Senate and municipal elections.

“But it’s still an open issue. We will see how the confidence vote turns out.

“We will also see how effective the government will be. Because it’s one thing to receive the confidence vote and another thing is you have to have the potential to push your legislation through the Parliament.

“And if they get support from the Communists it won’t be a blank cheque. The government will probably have to negotiate on every single vote they are going to put to the Chamber.

“This could be a sign that early elections could actually be a solution to this deadlocked situation. But it’s quite early now to predict.”