Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) and Social Democrat (ČSSD) chairman Jan
Hamáček failed to find common ground at a meeting Monday over the
appointment of a new Minister of Culture.
Hamáček said the Social Democrats, the junior coalition party, insist on their candidate, Michal Šmarda, and say President Miloš Zeman is violating the Constitution by failing to appoint him.
President Zeman said last week that Mr Šmarda was unqualified for the job, a view PM Babiš said on Friday that he shared.
Critics say the president is trying to exercise undue political power through his largely ceremonial position. He and Mr Babiš are due to meet to discuss the situation on Tuesday. The Social Democrats have threatened to quit the government if their candidate is not appointed.
The leader of the junior coalition party in government, Jan Hamáček of
the Social Democrats has written an open letter to Prime Minister Andrej
Babiš of ANO regarding the proposed draft budget for 2020 over which the
two parties are at odds.
Mr. Hamáček wrote that the draft proposal was "unrealistic" and his party’s ministries alone would fall short of 20 billion crowns, meaning that the government would not be able to fulfil its policy program and promises to voters.
While the Social Democrats are not in favour of exceeding the proposed 40 billion crown budget deficit they would like to see the government increase the state revenues – through steps such as a bank tax.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš earlier ridiculed the demand, saying the Social Democrats have spending in their genes.
The parties of the coalition government are at odds over the draft budget for 2020. The Social Democrats, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, have demanded an additional 20 billion crowns for their ministries. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Wednesday ridiculed the demand, saying the Social Democrats have spending in their genes.
The upper house of Czech Parliament voted in favour of a proposal for a
constitutional complaint against President Miloš Zeman. The proposal
received 48 votes on Wednesday, while 20 senators voted against and 7
abstained. If the proposal also receives support from the majority of the
lower house, it will reach the constitutional court. However, this is
unlikely, due to the ruling ANO-Social Democrat coalition, supported by the
Communist Party, holding a majority in the Chamber of Deputies. The Freedom
and Direct Democracy Party, which seems likely to support the president as
well, controls a further 19 seats.
The impulse for the draft complaint is the alleged influencing of the judiciary by President Zeman and his staff. The president’s recent unwillingness to accept the resignation of Culture Minister Antonín Staněk has also been added into the complaint.
In mid-June President Zeman dismissed the accusation, saying that it was a sign of constitutional illiteracy.
President Miloš Zeman will accept the resignation of Culture Minister
Antonín Staněk by the end of July and decide on whether Michal Šmarda,
the Social Democrat nominee, will succeed him in mid-August, Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš tweeted after a meeting with the president in the latter’s
Lány residence on Wednesday.
The leader of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček said that he will discuss the results of the Lány meeting with the prime minister on Thursday. However, he continues to insist on the nomination of Michal Šmarda.
If the situation goes along the lines described by the prime minister, the Ministry of Culture will not have a leader for two weeks in August. Mr. Babiš told the newspaper Lidové Noviny that this short period will not impact the ministry. The government is on holiday between August 1-26.
According to Mr. Babiš, Deputy Minister of Live Art Kateřina Kalistová (Social Democrats), could temporarily fill the role.
The leader of the opposition Civic Democrats, Petr Fiala, says he plans to
hold talks on possible cooperation with other conservative and liberal
parties before the next scheduled general elections in 2021, Czech
Television reported. Mr. Fiala said he wished to form a team that would
defeat government leaders ANO and carry out reforms in education,
digitalisation and the battle against bureaucracy.
The chairman of the Mayors and Independents, Vít Rakušan, has already raised the idea of building a bloc of parties before the next elections. This call was welcomed by TOP 09, while the Czech Pirate Party said they would prefer to go it alone.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček have
requested a meeting with President Miloš Zeman to try to resolve the
protracted crisis surrounding the change-of-guard at the Culture
Ministry.The date proposed is next week, despite the fact that the
president will still be holidaying at his country cottage at the time.
The Social Democrat leadership on Monday confirmed Michal Šmarda as the party’s nominee for culture minister and gave party leader Hamáček a stronger mandate in talks with the president and prime minister.
The party has been threatening to quit the government if the president refuses to accept its nominee for culture minister and has urged the prime minister to put pressure on the president to do his constitutional duty and appoint the man of their choice.
The Social Democrats’ party leadership on Monday set a final condition for remaining in the minority government of Andrej Babiš – that his ally President Miloš Zeman appoints their nominee for culture minister. But while urging the prime minister to use his constitutional power to ensure the appointment, the party’s ultimatum did not include a deadline.
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