The upcoming 50th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia has sparked controversy on the Czech political scene. Right-wing parties see the anniversary as an opportunity to protest against what they see as President Zeman’s pro-Russian orientation and the fact that the Communist Party is regaining an influence on national politics, while the Communist Party, which faces renewed hostility on the anniversary, is trying to play down Russia’s responsibility for the invasion.
Lawyer Hana Marvanová says some of the money from a collapsed 1990s
building firm now in the news went to the Social Democrats, who were then
led by the current president, Miloš Zeman. In an interview for DVTV, the
lawyer said the head of H-System, Petr Smetka, had delivered suitcases of
cash to the headquarters of the Social Democrats.
Ms. Marvanová represented clients of the H-System who lost money when the company collapsed. This week a group of victims of Mr. Smetka’s asset-stripping of the company were told they would have to leave their homes after a court ruled the administrator could sell the properties.
A spokesperson for the Social Democrats told iDnes.cz that there was no basis for Ms. Marvanová’s groundless accusations.
President Zeman is among one of many Czech politicians to have criticised the court ruling against the former H-System clients.
The leader of the opposition TOP 09 party, Jiří Pospíšil, says he is
considering sacking his assistant over the latter’s business dealings,
iDnes.cz reported. The news site iRozhlas.cz reported that Jan Zedník had
bought scores of apartments in the Most area with a view to capitalising on
disadvantaged tenants that are mainly living on social welfare.
Though Mr. Zedník, who is a member of the Civic Democrats, said he invested in the properties to secure funds for his retirement, Mr. Pospíšil has called on him to provide an explanation of the whole matter, iDnes.cz said.
The Social Democrat minister of agriculture, Miroslav Toman, is creating a
commission to oversee an audit relating to the restitution of church
property, the newspaper Právo reported on Saturday. Mr. Toman told the
daily that the commission – due to start work at the end of this month
– would focus on the forestry agency Lesy ČR and other bodies under his
ministry that had in the past handed anything over to churches under
divisive legislation passed five years ago.
The recently installed government of ANO and the Social Democrats say that financial settlements made to churches in lieu of property seized by the Communists after 1948 should be taxed. That was a demand of the present-day Communist Party for supporting the minority coalition on key votes. Critics say the move is akin to imposing a charge on a robbery victim.
Social Democrat MP Milan Chovanec says he is ready to give up his seat in
the lower house if the party’s deputies group expels him over his failure
to back the government. The former interior minister did not show up on
Wednesday for a vote of confidence in a coalition government comprising his
party and ANO. He said he could not raise his hand for the alliance for
reasons of conscience.
In an interview with Friday’s edition of the newspaper Právo, Mr. Chovanec said he had not wished to go against the Social Democrats’ party base but could not take any more.
He said more store should have been set in the party’s pre-election pledges not to enter government with ANO leader Andrej Babiš. Mr. Babiš is facing criminal charges over alleged fraud.
The creation of a coalition government of ANO and the Social Democrats
supported by the Communists represents the end of an era for the Czech
Republic, say some opposition politicians. The government passed the
necessary vote of confidence in the lower house in the early hours of
Karel Schwarzenberg of TOP 09 said the republic created in 1993 had now been replaced by an idiosyncratic, strong-leader style democracy shaped by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
Petr Fiala, the leader of the Civic Democrats, said the new government was “half-communist” and would do nothing for the country. Christian Democrats’ chief Pavel Bělobrádek said that the first Czech Republic had come to an end and a new one had begun.
The Communist Party’s support for the minority coalition gives the party their first share of power since 1989.
The minority government of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš won a parliamentary
confidence vote in the early hours of Thursday, following a contentious
Mr Babiš’s new government is the first since 1989 to cooperate with the staunchly pro-Russian and anti-NATO Communists, who pledged to back him in exchange for positions in state-owned enterprises and policy concessions.
His centrist ANO party won nearly 30 per cent of the vote in the October general election, but many parties refused to work with him, as he faces fraud charges for allegedly misappropriating EU funds some 10 years ago.
In June, after months of wrangling, the Social Democrats formally agreed to form a coalition with ANO. Together they have 93 seats in the 200-member parliament, so Mr Babiš had to rely on the backing of the Communists, who have 15 seats, to win the confidence vote. In the end, the government received 105 votes.
Mr Babiš’s first minority government lost a confidence vote in January, after which he was invited by President Miloš Zeman to make a second attempt.
A minority coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats is undergoing a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday. Although Prime Minister Andrej Babiš doesn’t have a majority, he will in all probability succeed in his second attempt form a government, after having secured a deal with the Communists who pledged to back the coalition during key votes.
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.
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.
Boeing’s gigantic 787 Dreamliner to launch service in Prague
Prague exhibition brings August 1968 invasion to life
Young Russians in Prague find that 1968 Russian-led invasion casts long shadow
Svíčková: more than beef sirloin, it’s a creamy national treasure
DJ Loutka, major figure on Czech dance music scene, dies at 51