An intense week in Czech politics has got underway ahead of a vote of
no-confidence in Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s government planned for
Friday. The opposition-tabled vote follows a scandal involving Mr.
Babiš’s son, who says he was forcibly taken to Crimea to get him out of
the way of an investigation over charges of corruption against the prime
Mr. Babiš is due to discuss the situation during talks with President Miloš Zeman on Monday evening. The head of state says he expects the ANO leader to survive the no-confidence vote. However, if he does not Mr. Zeman will task him with forming a new government.
The opposition have 92 seats in the 200-mandate lower house, meaning their vote can only succeed if they win support from coalition partners ANO or the Social Democrats. Leaders of the parties advocating the show of hands are due to meet on Tuesday.
The Social Democrats are due to discuss how to proceed at a meeting on Wednesday. The party’s leader, Jan Hamáček, has already said he wants the present coalition to continue.
The Communists, who back the minority coalition on key votes, are also expected to discuss what course to take.
The Czech national soccer team are preparing to face Slovakia in an
important game in Prague on Monday night. The hosts need to secure at least
one point from the tie to remain in their group in the second tier of the
Nations League competition
If the Czechs lose the derby with their former federal partners they will
be relegated to League C.
Adding spice to the encounter will be the fact that the Slovaks have a new Czech coach, Pavel Hapel. For his part, the hosts’ manager, Jaroslav Šilhavý, led the Czechs to victory over Slovakia in his first game in charge last month.
Ukraine have already come first in the three-team group. The Nations League is taking place for the first time.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš discussed an affair surrounding his family in
a half-hour TV interview on Sunday night. A day after visiting his son,
Andrej Babiš Jr., in Switzerland, he told TV Nova that the latter remained
convinced that he was taken to Russia and later Crimea against his will.
The son made the claim in a Seznam Zprávy report broadcast last Monday, saying that his father wanted him to “disappear” at a time he was sought for questioning over a corruption case involving the PM. Mr. Babiš says his son is mentally ill and denies having him forcibly removed from the Czech Republic.
Andrej Babiš’s ex-wife also appeared on TV Nova on Sunday. She read a short statement criticising the journalists from Seznam Zprávy who spoke to her son and describing the situation as an “outrageous campaign”.
The prime minister, his son and other members of his family are facing criminal charges of wrongfully acquiring CZK 50 million in EU grants in connection with a hotel and conference complex known as Stork’s Nest near Prague.
Social Democratic Party leader Jan Hamáček has said the ideal solution to
the present crisis would be for the governing coalition to continue under a
different prime minister. Speaking in a debate on Czech Television,
Hamáček said the Social Democrats, who are in coalition with Babiš’s
ANO Party, are not happy with the prospect of a no-confidence vote in the
government. “We have to consider what a vote of no-confidence would bring
the country in view of the president’s intentions,” he said, pointing
out that either his party would be replaced in the coalition by the
populist SPD or the country would face a drawn-out constitutional crisis.
President Zeman said earlier this week that if the government should fall he would once again task Andrej Babis with forming a new government and noted that, in any case, the present government could continue to rule in demise for an unspecified period of time.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told Czech Radio that the people who called
for his demise had fallen for "a thousand-times-repeated lies about
his alleged role as an agent of the communist secret police, claims of EU
subsidy fraud and an abduction that never happened“. The prime minister
responded to Czech Radio’s question by SMS.
Andrej Babiš is expected to address the most recent suspicions that have emerged in an interview for commercial TV NOVA on Sunday evening.
Elections to the European Parliament in the Czech Republic will be held on 24th and 24th of May next year, the Interior Ministry confirmed in a statement on Sunday. The date stems from the decision of the Council of Europe that the elections in individual member states should be held in the last weekend of the month of May. The president should officially announce the date by February 23rd.
Msgr. Charles Daniel Balvo, who was appointed the new papal nuncio to the
Czech Republic, is expected to arrive in Prague on November 22nd. He will
be met at Prague airport by Cardinal Dominik Duka.
Msgr. Charles Daniel Balvo was ordained priest in 1976 in New York. He entered the diplomatic corps of the Holy See a year later.
He has served in the nunciatures in Ghana, Ecuador, Chile, the Czech Republic, Jordan and Lithuania. He speaks English, Italian, Spanish, French and Czech.
Several thousand people attended a Concert for the Future on Prague’s
Wenceslas Square on Saturday night.
The concert lasted for more than five hours with music interspersed with speeches by activists, former politicians and personalities from the arts world. The speakers criticized the present political culture in the country and spoke about the need to protect and nurture freedom and democracy.
There were calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who faces charges of EU subsidy fraud.
The concert was preceded by a protest gathering against the prime minister on Old Town Square attended by thousands of people.
The non-profit organization Post Bellum traditionally handed out awards for
civic courage on November 17, the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that
triggered the fall of communism in the Czech Republic.
Among the recipients this year were political prisoner Jiří Světlík, Milena Blatná, who helped political prisoners forced to work in the country’s uranium mines, political prisoner Helena Kociánová who lost a leg helping an inmate and Marta Szilárdová who survived the Holocaust and saved her sister’s life during the Death March.