Negotiation teams of ANO and the Social Democrats are scheduled to meet on
Monday to hold talks about the possibility of cooperation in a future
minority government supported by the Communist Party.
Previous talks between the two parties had collapsed after ANO refused to give up either the Finance Ministry or Interior Ministry portfolio. Last week, the leadership of ANO decided to renew the talks, since some ANO were opposed to entering a government involving the anti-migrant Freedom and Direct Democracy.
The Social Democrats said last week they would wait for the offer from the ANO party before they decided to renew the government negotiations.
ANO won 78 mandates in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies in elections in October but have so far failed to create a majority administration.
President Miloš Zeman will receive the prime minister in resignation
Andrej Babiš on Sunday to be updated on the state of coalition government
negotiations. Mr Babiš, tasked with a second attempt at forming a viable
government, so far has not been successful in reaching an agreement with
possible coalition partners.
The head of state previously urged the prime minister to negotiate with the Communists and the anti-Islam and anti-migrant Freedom and Direct Democracy. Following talks on Thursday, however, ANO did an about-face with the intention of reopening talks with the Social Democrats. Last week negotiations with the Social Democrats over a possible minority government fell apart over demands for certain portfolios.
The head of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, has also asked to meet with the head of state.
ANO chief Andrej Babiš has come out against early elections as a possible
solution to the ongoing political impasse in the Czech Republic. Speaking
on Saturday, the prime minister in resignation said nobody wanted snap
elections. He said another solution must be sought as everybody was now
tired of the situation
Mr. Babiš said he had come under fire but parties such as the Civic Democrats and had ruled out forming a coalition with ANO soon after elections in October, in which his party received almost 30 percent.
The Civic Democrats and other groupings refuse to work with a government headed by a prime minister facing criminal charges. Mr. Babiš is accused of abusing EU subsidies.
His indictment was also a point of contention during coalition talks with the Social Democrats, which collapsed this week.
An outdoor photo exhibition marking the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia
on the premises of the Senate has reopened to the public after its winter
The exhibition in the Valdštejnska gardens shows over 163 large photos documenting various milestones in the country’s development, from Tomas G. Masaryk’s arrival from exile in 1918, through the Nazi occupation, the communist years and the 1989 Velvet Revolution right up to Ester Ledecka’s triumph at the Winter Olympics in 2018.
The exhibition will remain on show in the Senate gardens until May 18 after which it will travel around the country.
The Stars and Stripes flew alongside the Czech flag on the front of the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday in honour of a visit by Paul Ryan, the speaker of the US House of Representatives. While the speaker is in the Czech Republic on vacation, he met with the prime minister, the Czech speaker and other officials. In his address to the lower house, a rare honour, he spoke about the United States’ commitment to its allies and openly condemned attempts by Russia to sow discord between Prague and Washington.
Former Czech prime minister and Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka has
announced he will step down as a member of parliament and from top level
politics and will from the start of April just be a member of the party.
Sobotka said on his Facebook and Twitter accounts that he had been
considering the move for several months and that the decision was motivated
by personal reasons. He wanted to devote more time to his family.
The move though has been interpreted in the light of the fact that he opposes the party’s moves to form a government coalition with ANO leader Andrej Babiš.
Sobotka said he would oppose such a coalition in an internal party referendum and had not hidden his opposition in recent weeks.
The Czech government has moved, not for the first time, to try and regulate lobbying. The country at the moment is one of the handful in Europe that had no specific set of rules governing what lobbyists can do and how various decision makers, whether they are elected politicians or civil servants, can interact with them.
Criminal charges have been filed against a judge at Prague’s Supreme
Court. Ivan Elischer is accused of bribe taking, abuse of office and
preferential treatment, the chairman of the court’s panel told
journalists. Mr. Elischer has been at the court since 2013 and specialises
in serious drug cases.
He was arrested by the police’s national organised crime unit in a raid at the court building on Tuesday moring. Neither the police nor the state attorney’s office have revealed any details about the matter.
The head of state Miloš Zeman, who took the oath of office this week for
his second and final five year term, is reportedly having a concert
organized for invited guests at Prague Castle to celebrate. It is scheduled
for next Wednesday. His spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, confirmed for the
Czech News Agency that the list of invited supporters would be about 1,000
names. More is to be revealed at a press conference on Tuesday.
Mr Zeman kept a relatively low profile in recent weeks, following his narrow defeat of challenger Jiří Drahoš in the presidential race.
He came under fire for part of his inaugural speech this week in which he took aim at his political opponents and attacked the objectivity of the media including public broadcaster Czech TV.
Former student leader in 1989 and longtime head of the NGO People in Need,
Šimon Pánek, gave a somber speech before some 400 attendees at the 23rd
Prague Student Summit on Friday in which he said the the world was growing
increasingly dangerous, that democracy was weakening and globalization
between tyrants was becoming more and more the norm.
He expressed the view that the dominance of European and American influence was waning after 200 years making way for a multipolar world and suggested that authoritarian leaders and dictators were the ones taking advantage.
As an example, he pointed to many meetings between leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, asking students what they thought they talked about.
Mr Pánek was equally grim in his description of political developments on the domestic scene, referencing J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy classic The Lord of the Rings: "Mordor's power is growing" he said in describing the balance of power in the Czech Republic and the power bloc of the current president and the prime minister in resignation, which, in his view, was "nothing to cheer about".
The NGO head, who spoke after the US ambassador to Prague Stephen B. King and first round presidential candidate Marek Hilšer, said Czechia did not need as many new diplomats and experts as there were students at the summit but rather people who "fought for basic ideals, solidarity, were honorable and defended human rights".
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