The government of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has, as expected,
survived a no-confidence vote in parliament. Ninety-two MPs voted for the
measure, 90 voted against it, and 18 abstained. To pass, 101 votes were
The vote took place after over seven hours of at times heated and emotional debate. It was called by the opposition due to fraud allegations against Mr Babiš involving EU subsidies, triggered by an interview his son gave claiming he had been “kidnapped” so he would not talk to investigators.
Mr Babiš’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats, skipped the vote to allow the government to survive. But they want Mr Babiš to resign. He is refusing to do so.
“I have no reason to resign,” he told lawmakers in an emotional speech before the vote. “You either have to dismiss me or try to defeat me in free, democratic elections. You cannot get rid of me in any other way than through the one based on the will of the citizens.”
Mr Babiš condemned what he called the “lies” being spread about the kidnapping or coerced disappearance of his son, Andrej Babiš Jr., who he says was in Russian-occupied Crimea at the time in question of his own free will.
Mr Babiš called the whole thing a “pseudo-affair” and again accused journalists of exploiting his son’s psychological condition to obtain what he called “a false and unethical report.”
Earlier in the week, Social Democratic party leader Jan Hamáček said it would be best if the prime minister stepped down.
“The prime minister’s personal problems are burdening the government and we lobbied hard for a change of prime minister, but the ANO party is categorically against that. So by abstaining from the vote we are acknowledging the problem, but our priority is to continue in this government and to implement our policy programme”, Hamáček said.
The only way to bring about a change of prime minister, Hamáček said, was via a motion to dissolve parliament and hold early elections, which his party was ready to support if 120 votes could be found for such a solution in the lower house.
Mr Babiš’s ANO party remains the most popular. A survey published on Friday by the pollster CVVM show ANO would win elections now with about 30 percent of the vote. However, that poll was conducted before the current crisis peaked and so does not fully reflect its potential impact on party preferences, CVVM said.
A separate poll by the Median agency taken last week showed that most Czechs (57 percent) believe Babiš tried to keep his children from testifying in the corruption case against him over EU subsidies to the Stork’s Next complex.
The poll was taken after the publication of an interview on November 12 with Andrej Babiš Jr, who said he had been “kidnapped” and taken to Crimea because his father wanted him to “disappear” while the investigation into EU subsidy fraud was underway.
Mr Babiš says his son, who now lives in Switzerland, is mentally ill and that the allegations are nonsense. The prime minister also says his daughter is bipolar and so her testimony would be unreliable.
Czech scientists are preparing for a research trip to the Amazon Forest to
study a hallucinogenic drink used by indigenous South American people,
known as “ayahuasca iowaska” or “yagé” for short.
The Czech team will be led by neuroscientist and leading researcher of psychoactive substances Tomáš Páleníček of the National Institute of Mental Health.
Yagé is used by people in the Amazon River basin in spiritual rituals and is believed to have for the healing properties. Under clinical conditions, its therapeutic effects have been demonstrated on people suffering from depression.
However, the long-term effects of yagé on the brain have not been studied, according to Páleníček.
Kurt Taussig, a Czech Jewish child sent to Britain on one of the famed
kindertransport trains organised by Sir Nicholas Winton ahead of WWII, has
been granted honorary citizenship in Teplice, his birthplace, at the age of
Sir Winton saved the lives of 669 Jewish children, including Kurt Taussig, through the kindertransports. In total, the descendants of Sir Winton's rescued children today number around 6,000 people.
About one in six children on those trains later fought in uniform against Hitler as adults. Taussig, who left Teplice at age 15, went on to fight the Nazis as a pilot with a Czechoslovak unit under RAF command.
The new Prague City Council is looking into investing some 80 million euros
from the municipal budget into creating new car parks and parking spaces in
the Czech capital.
Adam Scheinherr, the city’s Councillor for Transport, said solving the parking problem is among the Prague City Council’s priorities.
Vladimír Tomšík, the deputy governor of the Czech National Bank, is in
line to become the country’s next ambassador to China, pending approval
This according to an interview with President Miloš Zeman published Friday
by the daily Mladá fronta Dnes.
The current Czech Ambassador to China, Bedřich Kopecký, is reportedly being pushed out for having signed on to a call by diplomats from other EU countries, as well as Australia, Canada, Japan and Switzerland, for Beijing to respect human rights.
Ahead of Friday’s no-confidence vote in his government, Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš said in an emotional speech before parliament that the
“lies” journalists had spread about the “kidnapping” or coerced
disappearance of his son had trigged the vote, and he has no intention of
The opposition had initiated the vote following Mr Babiš’s son saying in an interview that he was deliberately kept abroad to avoid him being questioned about his father’s alleged illegal use of EU subsidies worth about 2 million euro. The Czech prime minister insists that his son is mentally ill and went to Crimea during the period in question of his own free will.
The no-confidence vote is due to fail as the junior coalition party, the Social Democrats, will abstain from the vote, and the opposition is nine votes short of the 101 needed for the move to pass. However, the Social Democrats are calling for Mr. Babiš to resign and for another member of his ANO party to take up the post.
In his speech to the lower house, Mr Babiš said he would never step down over this “pseudo-affair” and again accused journalists of exploiting his son’s condition to obtain what he called “a false and unethical report.”
Owners of the TPCA car factory in Kolín, central Bohemia, may soon be
parting ways. PSA of France and Toyota of Japan have agreed to end
production of small cars at the Czech site by 2021, the French daily Les
The car companies Toyota, Peugeot and Citroën formed the TPCA joint venture in 2002. The Japanese carmaker is expected to take over PSA's stake, but no final decision has been announced.
The TPCA plant in Kolín has an annual production capacity of 330,000 vehicles, a mark last achieved in 2009, before the global financial crisis. For this year, the plant is due to roll out only 200,000 cars.
The Plastic People of the Universe, an underground rock band persecuted by
the secret police in the 1970s, will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a
concert at Prague’s Akropolis Palace on December 1.
Unable to perform openly, the band was forced underground and became a focal and rallying point for dissidents, most famously Václav Havel.
It was partly in protest over the Plastics’ prosecution that then playwright Havel and others formed the Charter 77 human rights initiative.
Air pollution in the Moravia-Silesia region has worsened, the Czech
Hydro-meteorological Institute reported on Friday. At several monitoring
stations in the region, including Třinec and Český Těšín, the amount
of dust particles in the air has more than twice exceeded permitted levels.
Moravia and Silesia are one of Europe’s most polluted regions due to heavy industry located on both sides of the Czech-Polish border. Air pollution is a problem especially in the winter months, when the situation is aggravated by coal heating.