The leader of a revolt against the chairman of the Social Democrats has
admitted to a secret meeting with President Miloš Zeman after previously
denying it took place. On Tuesday the party’s number two Michal Hašek
had repeated the assertion that the meeting never happened, only to do a
u-turn on Wednesday. Three other senior Social Democrats have also finally
admitted that the talks took place on Saturday night, hours after the
outcome of a general election became clear.
At the meeting, the president, a former leader of the Social Democrats, is said to have called for the ousting of Bohuslav Sobotka as chairman in the wake of disappointing election results; the Social Democrats came first but took fewer votes than expected. Mr. Hašek on Sunday instigated a revolt against Mr. Sobotka. However, he has refused to quit and seems to be gathering momentum in the power struggle.
The first of the meeting’s participants to say that it occurred says that those who lied about it should quit the leadership of the Social Democrats. Deputy chairman Milan Chovanec said that another member of the party leadership had informed him several days in advance that the meeting with President Zeman would take place. One of the meeting’s participants, Jiří Zimola, said Mr. Zeman had asked the group to keep it secret. A wing of the party surrounding Mr. Hašek is believed to be close to the head of state.
Mr. Sobotka says he will not remain in the leadership of the Social Democrats with people who had lied publicly. He told the news website Aktualne.cz that a meeting of the party’s executive committee set for November 10 would decide who would remain: him or Mr. Hašek. He said that the Social Democrats needed to overcome the schizophrenia they had been suffering from for some time and that perhaps he ought to have tried to end it prior to the elections.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sobotka has begun negotiating with other party leaders on the formation of a government, meeting the leader of the Christian Democrats, Pavel Bělobrádek on Wednesday. He is also due to sit down with Andrej Babiš of ANO. As part of the move against him Mr. Sobotka was voted off the Social Democrats’ negotiating team. However, it has since fallen apart as the power struggle continues and a new team should be created on Thursday.
The leader of the party that came second in the elections, ANO 2011, says they would “tolerate” a government of which they were not a member, if the cabinet adopted some of their policies. ANO chief Andrej Babiš made the comments in an interview for Czech Television on Wednesday. The Slovak-born billionaire said his party did not wish to participate directly in government, but added they would consider their options. In their first general election, ANO took over 18 percent of the vote.
The mayor of Prague, Tomáš Hudeček, and other councilors who are being investigated in connection with the overpriced Opencard electronic card system will not resign even if they appear in court. A representative of the mayor’s party, TOP 09, made the statement on Wednesday. Mr. Hudeček says that the police have made mistakes in their investigation of the matter. He had previously that he would quit if charges were pressed. Along with nine other current and former Civic Democrat and TOP 09 councilors, he is accused of breach of trust and breach of competition regulations. The Opencard is used for public transport and other services.
Radovan Suchánek is set to become a judge at the Czech Constitutional Court, after the Senate approved his nomination on Wednesday. Mr. Suchánek serves as a legal advisor to the Social Democrats but said after winning approval that he would immediately quit the party. He told senators that he would not rule on issues in which he could be accused of bias. At 40 years of age, Mr. Suchánek will be the court’s youngest justice.
Clarinet player Ferdinand Havlík has died at the age of 85. The musician was one of the founders of the Semafor musical theatre where following the early death of another of the cultural institution’s creators, Jiří Šlitr, he became its main composer. The Brno-born Mr. Havlík also set up his own Swing Band in the 1970s and wrote music for films.
The eight edition of the annual KomiksFEST! gets underway in Prague on Wednesday. This year the festival will include an exhibition of work by the well-known Czech comics artist and writer Jiří Grus, a theatre performance relating to the mythical Prague WWII superhero Pérák, films, workshops and several other events.
The ANO party of food magnate Andrej Babiš and the Christian Democrats say they are ready to hold coalition talks with the embattled leader of the Social Democrats Bohuslav Sobotka, whose party won the elections by a small margin. This is seen as a significant show of support for Mr. Sobotka whose position at the head of the party has been challenged by party rivals close to President Miloš Zeman. Following a vote by the party’s executive leadership Mr. Sobotka was dropped from the party’s negotiating team on Sunday, but he has refused to be sidelined from the talks saying he has the mandate to represent the party and would lead parallel negotiations if necessary.