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December 15, 2017 7:00 am | FILED UNDER: politics

Zeman and Babis in Cahoots

By ČTK Andrej Babis Milos Zeman

Bratislava, Dec 14 (CTK) – The Czech Republic is governed by the worst possible combination of forces that may secure impunity for PM Andrej Babis and re-election for President Milos Zeman, Slovak daily Dennik N writes today, adding that the Babis-Zeman pact was confirmed again during the new cabinet’s appointment.

 

“Never before on this occasion made it a Czech president so ostentatiously clear how close to him the new government is,” Dennik N writes about the ceremony held on Wednesday.

 

“In live transmission, Zeman denied the principles of parliamentary democracy by assuring members of the new cabinet that they need not worry about whether they enjoy the lawmakers’ confidence,” Dennik N writes.

 

For the time being, the results of the Chamber of Deputies’ votes have been determined by a voting coalition of Babis’s ANO and the right- and left- extremists, it continues.

 

“Extremists have been gaining influential posts they could only dream about for many past years. Furthermore, intensive efforts are underway to secure impunity for the new PM,” the daily writes, referring to a subsidy fraud of which Babis is suspected and on the lower house’s upcoming vote on whether to release him for prosecution.

 

ANO has 78 seats in the 200-seat Czech Chamber of Deputies. In several key votes in the past days, it pushed proposals through together with the Communists (KSCM, 15 seats) and the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD, 22 seats).

 

The Zeman-Babis pact works well, writes another Slovak daily, Pravda.

 

In exchange for the appointment of an ANO government by Zeman, ANO has not fielded its own candidate to challenge Zeman in the January direct presidential election, it writes.

 

“If everything goes on well, or if Zeman is re-elected and Babis’s cabinet wins [parliament’s] confidence, this can be expected to be a mere beginning of a ‘nice friendship’,” Pravda writes.

 

Babis’s cabinet can hardly be expected to refrain from making important decisions until it gains parliament’s confidence, the daily writes and adds that a personnel cleansing at ministries and state-run companies may be expected.

 

It also mentions a probable pressure to be faced by the state attorney’s office and the public media.

 

According to daily Sme, Zeman, with his procedure of appointing a new cabinet, caused the upcoming presidential elections to be a referendum on whether Babis should remain prime minister.

 

“The way Milos Zeman has in fact usurped a large part of executive power could enter textbooks dealing with the nature of Carpathian democracies,” Sme writes, in a probable allusion to Babis’s Slovak ethnicity.

 

“The forming and appointment of Andrej Babis’s government showed that Zeman’s creativity has not reached its climax yet,” Sme writes.

 

The keeping of Babis in the post of PM against the will of the Chamber of Deputies would be a coup against the constitution. In parliamentary democracy, the government must reflect the will of a majority in parliament, not of the election-winning party, Sme writes.

 

The guarantor of Babis’s post of PM are neither voters nor lawmakers but the president, and therefore Babis is interested in Zeman’s re-election as president in January, the paper adds.

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