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January 8, 2018 6:01 am | FILED UNDER: politics

Don’t Rule Babis Out Yet – Klaus

By ČTK Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis Speaks in Chamber of Deputies

Prague, (CTK) – The new Czech minority cabinet of Andrej Babis (ANO) is unlikely to gain lawmakers’ confidence next week, former president Vaclav Klaus said today, but he did not rule out its success in the upcoming vote based on possible “close-to-business deals” between Babis and some lawmakers.

 

Without a regular mandate including the Chamber of Deputies’ confidence, the government should make provisory decisions only. It should refrain from deciding on investments and on European affairs such as the asylum policy and the EU core’s envisaged integration, Klaus said in an interview on Prima TV.

 

“I think [the Babis government] will not receive the confidence. The fact that the prime minister is facing the vote so self-confidently might indicate that he has struck some – I would almost say – business deals with some members of parliament, who may finally unexpectedly support them [ANO government]. I do not rule this scenario out,” Klaus said.

 

Klaus, who was prime minister for the Civic Democrats (ODS) in 1992-1997 and president in 2003-2013, said he considers a minority government an alternative, but the question is whether the Babis government was formed after negotiations on all possible other variants were exhausted.

 

“I think it was a mistake [by Babis] to envisage forming a minority cabinet so quickly. I do not know what motivated the current prime minister, if he wanted to skip something over or speed something up,” Klaus said.

 

He said the balance of forces in the Chamber of Deputies does not offer many good variants, and some parties do not want to “dirty themselves by entering the government,” Klaus said.

 

Babis’s ANO comfortably won the general election, gaining 78 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies. However, none of the other eight parties in the Chamber plans to support or tolerate Babis’s minority government, except for the Communists (KSCM) who are yet to make up their mind before the vote of confidence scheduled for January 10.

 

Klaus said the current political stalemate is to blame on the right-wing leader ODS (with which he fell out in the 2000s) and the left-wing leader, the Social Democrats (CSSD), with their superficial approach to issues and their fear to express their stands.

 

He called the two parties’ election results an absolute failure.

 

The ODS gained 22 seats in the lower house, far fewer than its 81 seats at the time of its peaking popularity in the mid-2000s, but more than the 16 seats it gained in the previous general election in 2013.

 

The CSSD, which ruled together with ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) in 2014-2017, saw the number of its deputies fall from 50 to mere 15.

 

Klaus made critical comments on the rightist TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents (STAN), and also on the newcomers to parliament, the Pirates and the Freedom and Direct Democracy Movement (SPD).

 

He said he considers politics a clash of concepts and ideas, not a matter of whether a party has a little bit better manager than the others.

 

Klaus said he has a favourite to support in the upcoming direct presidential election, but would not tell his name.

 

“I am no destructor, I am for stability and continuation,” he said.

 

Among the nine presidential candidates, he distinguishes those without any political experience from those politically experienced, which are Milos Zeman, the incumbent president who seeks re-election, and Mirek Topolanek, former PM and Klaus’s successor at the head of the ODS in 2002-2010.

 

In 1998-2002, Klaus’s opposition ODS kept a minority CSSD cabinet of Zeman afloat in exchange of a portion of political influence.

 

Klaus supported Zeman’s candidacy before the previous presidential election five years ago.

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