Andrej Babis


Babis: Early Elections Likely Due to Lack of Support for Minority Government

Prague, Feb 3 (CTK) – Outgoing Czech PM Andrej Babis (ANO) admits the possibility of early elections taking place if his next government failed to win lawmakers’ confidence, he told daily Pravo out today, adding that he wants to find support for his new cabinet by the end of February.


He said he still prefers forming a one-party minority cabinet of ANO, the same as his current cabinet which lost the confidence vote in January and is ruling in resignation until a new cabinet is formed.


Also in January, President Milos Zeman assigned Babis, whose ANO comfortably won the October general election, with new government-forming negotiations.


Babis said he would like to find support from the required majority of lawmakers by the end of February, after which the cabinet would [be completed, appointed and] ask the lower house to vote confidence in it.


He mentioned May as the possible deadline for the cabinet to be established and supported by parliament.


“However, if we failed to reach agreement [with parties in parliament], an early general election might be the only solution,” Babis said.


He said he would not prefer early elections, but, on the other hand, there is “no reasonable response there, there is nothing but anti-Babis,” he said, referring to the other parties in the Chamber of Deputies.


Asked how he would attain early elections in a situation where President Zeman rejects them as do most political parties, which would hardly vote to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies, Babis said he does not want early elections either.


“However, if we failed to agree on a government, it is hard to say what would happen,” he said.


He said he would never ally with Milan Chovanec, former interior minister who will run for Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman at the party’s congress on February 18 and who said under him as chairman, the CSSD would never join a government headed by Babis due to the prosecution he faces for a suspected EU subsidy fraud.


Asked whether he would consider allying with the CSSD with other chairman, Jan Hamacek or Jiri Zimola, at the head, Babis said ANO is waiting for the CSSD congress results.


“The CSSD must say whether they want [to ally] with ANO and Babis. ANO has clearly said it wants no other prime minister but me,” Babis said.


He wants his second cabinet to be a one-party and minority one, like the current one. “It would be the best if we found parties to tolerate us and enable us to operate as effectively as now…I firmly hope that the traditional parties will consider this and nod to tolerating us in exchange for certain programme concessions,” Babis said.


“We prefer a minority government tolerated based on common programme denominators and within a framework agreement on [the lower house] voting confidence in it in exchange for its [vow to] promote certain bills,” he said.


Before the CSSD congress takes place, ANO will continue negotiating with the Communists (KSCM) and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement on their support, and it might try also to address other parties in parliament to see whether they changed their mind following the presidential election, Babis told Pravo, mentioning, some lawmakers from the CSSD, the Mayors and Independents (STAN) movement and the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) in this connection.


In the presidential runoff vote, incumbent President Milos Zeman defeated academic Jiri Drahos last weekend.


There are nine parties in the 200-seat Czech Chamber of Deputies. Out of them, ANO has 78 seats, followed by the ODS (25 seats), the Pirates (22), the SPD (22), the KSCM (15), the CSSD (15), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL, 10), TOP 09 (7) and STAN (6).