Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has been re-elected chairman of the ANO party that he founded seven years ago, running unopposed at the party’s congress on Sunday. Polls show Mr. Babiš remains the most popular, trusted politician in parliament, and ANO would win general elections if held today. So, what direction is he looking to take the party – and the country?
A group of Czech senators recently accused President Miloš Zeman of gross violation of the Constitution and began drafting an official bill of impeachment. However, the chances of the liberal Senator 21 group finding the support to force out the head of state seem extremely slim. But why is it so hard to remove a Czech president?
The head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church has hit back at a Communist Party bill aimed at taxing compensation paid to churches for property seized under the previous regime. Cardinal Dominik Duka has described the Communists’ move as a “black comedy” and says a Senate vote on the matter will determine how faith groups proceed.
The Roman Catholic Church will wait for a Senate decision on taxing
compensation paid out to churches in restitution before making a decision
on how to proceed, Cardinal Dominik Duka said after a meeting of the Czech
Bishops’ Conference. The head of the Catholic Church in the Czech
Republic said it would coordinate its response with other churches and the
Federation of Jewish Communities.
The Chamber of Deputies last week approved a Communist Party proposal to tax the compensation received by churches in lieu of properties seized under the previous regime.
Cardinal Duka described the vote as a black comedy directed by the Communists, adding that compensation was never taxed. The Senate is regarded as likely to reject the bill.
Senators from the Liberal Democratic Caucus - Senator 21 say they will take
legal action against President Miloš Zeman for alleged gross violations of
Senator 21 caucus head, Václav Láska, told reporters the impetus stemmed from improper interventions by the president and his staff.
Last week a proposal by another Senator 21 member to file a “constitutional action” against President Zeman over suspicions he had tried to exert influence over the courts was rejected, as he hadn’t secured the backing of at least one-third of the Senate to do so.
Czech MPs may have their salaries cut if they fail to turn up for lower
house sessions or meetings of committees of which they are members. Pirate
Party MP Jakub Michálek told iDnes.cz that representatives of different
parties’ parliamentary groups had agreed to discuss the matter later this
A law docking deputies’ salaries and benefits if they do not officially excuse themselves from two or more sessions or committee meetings has been on the statute books for two decades. However, no body has been charged with implementing the legislation.
Mr. Michálek has proposed that the lower house’s Organisational Committee assume responsibility and begin fining MPs for unexplained absenteeism, iDnes.cz reported.
The Czech Republic has improved its standing in watchdog Transparency
International’s Annual Corruption Index for 2018. The country has moved
four rungs up the ladder to 38th spot in the worldwide rankings.
Under TI’s criteria, the Czech Republic picked up 59 points compared to 57 in 2017. However, it is still lagging behind the EU average by six points.
Transparency International’s annual Index has rated countries by perceived levels of corruption since 1995 on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being very corrupt and 100 being very clean.
Prague Bishop Václav Malý has sent an open letter to the speakers of the
lower house of Parliament and the Senate to protest against an amendment
taxing church restitutions approved by the lower chamber last week. Bishop
Malý says in the letter that the minority government is paying the price
for Communist Party support, and argues that the bill demonstrates the
growing arrogance and unscrupulous practices of those in power.
The amendment, which was approved in the lower house last Wednesday, would tax the roughly 59 billion crowns which the state is paying out in phases as compensation for property which the state cannot return.
Money from church restitution taxes could be used to fund repairs of
cultural monuments, President Miloš Zeman said in a televised interview on
Thursday. He said he would propose this to Minister of Culture Antonín
Staněk (Social Democrats).
Czech MPs on Wednesday approved a tax on the billions in annual payments the state is making to the country’s 16 churches and a Jewish organisation to compensate for assets seized by the Communist regime.
Critics say the tax – proposed by the Communists and supported by the minority ANO-Social Democrat government – is unconstitutional.
If approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Zeman, the state stands to recover about 380 million crowns annually from the roughly 2 billion crowns it now transfers to the religious groups under bilateral agreements.
The Catholic Church, the largest single denomination with over 1 million followers, is slated to receive about 80 percent of the compensation package.
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