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June 30, 2018 12:00 am | FILED UNDER: politics

Communists Pledge Support For Babis

By Matt Atlas Andrej Babis filip vojtech

Prague, June 30 (CTK) – The Communist (KSCM) lawmakers will actively support the establishment of the minority government of ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD) in the confidence vote in the lower house of Czech parliament, KSCM leader Vojtech Filip said after his party leadership confirmed the decision today.

 

“The government policy statement includes all the seven priorities that we set as our conditions for the negotiations,” Filip said.

 

“I am glad that the decision that the Communist would tolerate the government was eventually made,” ANO deputy chairman Richard Brabec told Czech Television in reaction.

 

Brabec said the active support for the government was agreed on in the KSCM-ANO tolerance deal and meant that the KSCM MPs would vote for the government in parliament.

 

Babis, who is visiting France, did not comment on the KSCM decision.

 

CSSD chairman Jan Hamacek said the KSCM made a responsible decision as the country badly needs a stable government eight months after the general election.

 

Hamacek pointed out that the Communists are not members of the cabinet.”The KSCM will not be a coalition partner, which is how many opposition politicians interpret it,” he said.

 

The Communists and Social Democrats agreed on a number of points in their programmes, which they incorporated into the government policy statement together with ANO, Hamacek said.

 

Filip said the Communists would now want to sign the tolerance deal with the ANO negotiators.

 

Filip said the KSCM leadership wanted to add some points to the deal. He said the additions only wanted to secure that the KSCM seven priorities would be properly discussed and met six months before the end of the current election period at the latest.

 

The KSCM leadership said 54 members voted for supporting the government of Andrej Babis (ANO), 23 members voted against it and one abstained from the vote.

 

Communist MP Jiri Dolejs tweeted that two thirds of the party leadership were clearly for the support for the government after a discussion lasting four hours.

 

Earlier this week, some KSCM politicians warned that cooperation with billionaire Babis may harm the party in the autumn local elections.

 

The seven programme conditions set by the Communists are that the government push through a general referendum bill, raise the minimum wage, impose a tax financial compensation paid to churches for unreturned property, and protect the country’s natural resources, especially water sources and raw material deposits. The KSCM also wants pensions to be further indexed, construction of municipal flats boosted, rent increases prevented and quality healthcare without patients’ rising financial participation to be preserved.

 

The final version of the ANO-CSSD policy statement no longer contains the plan to reinforce Czech military missions abroad. The Communists are against the country’s membership of NATO.

 

Filip rejected the view that the Communist decision to support the government was connected with the fact that President Milos Zeman assured the KSCM leaders that their demands related to the post in the board of the CEZ state-controlled power utility.

 

Most opposition parties share the opinion that the KSCM exchanged its support for the government for posts in state-run companies. The KSCM has not participated in the central government in any way since the fall of the Czechoslovak Communist regime in 1989.

 

CSSD deputy chairman Martin Netolicky told CTK that the KSCM decision was expected because both the CSSD and ANO offered concessions to them. He said only the next weeks and months would show whether the government would be stable.

 

President Zeman appointed Babis’s second cabinet on Wednesday. The CSSD occupies one third of the seats in the cabinet. However, Zeman refused to appoint the CSSD candidate for foreign minister, MEP Miroslav Poche, and he assigned Interior Minister Hamacek with temporarily heading the Foreign Ministry.

 

Netolicky said he would like the CSSD to insist on Poche as foreign minister.

 

However, Hamacek told today’s issue of daily Pravo that there were several alternatives to the situation when he was asked whether the CSSD would insist on Poche.

 

Babis’s first minority cabinet failed to win the confidence vote as only ANO lawmakers supported it in parliament in January. The current cabinet is eight votes short of a majority in the 200-seat lower house and the KSCM has 15 lawmakers. ANO has 78 MPs and the CSSD 15 MPs.

 

The lower house of parliament will take a confidence vote in the government at its session starting on July 11. Filip said he would negotiate with Babis and Hamacek in the second week of July before the session.

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