Šmarda withdraws candidacy for Culture Minister

20-08-2019

Social Democrat (ČSSD) deputy chairman Michal Šmarda has withdrawn his name from consideration as Minister of Culture, he told Czech TV on Monday night. He said it made no sense to try to join the cabinet without the backing of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO).

President Miloš Zeman had refused to name Šmarda to the post, leaving it vacant for months, although under the Constitution legal experts argue he is obliged to accept the nominees put forward by the prime minister.

The Social Democrats had threatened to quit the government if Šmarda were not appointed, citing the coalition agreement with ANO that the Ministry of Culture was under their purview, and the president’s violation of the Constitution.

Zeman and Babiš are due to discuss the situation at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at the president’s Lány residence.

Šmarda said he would recommend to his party that it leave the government. He also said he now intends to run in the Senate elections next year, contesting in the Žďár region.