Andrej Babis

Matt Atlas

Babis May Lose Support For Emergency Powers As COVID-19 Surges

The Czech government faced the threat that parliament may tie its hands in efforts to combat one of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreaks after a critical ally in parliament said on Friday it would not support the extension of emergency executive powers.

The Communist Party, which supports Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ minority coalition government, said it had decided to withdraw backing for the powers in response to the government ignoring its calls to reopen schools and ski resorts.

“The government did not take our conditions seriously and decided otherwise,” the party said in a statement.

According to STAN Chairman Vít Rakušan, the Coalition of Pirates and Mayors and Independents (STAN) is preparing to manage the pandemic by the end of the year. The head of the Pirates, Ivan Bartoš, conditions the negotiations on the support of the state of emergency by supporting the group’s key proposals.

Today, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš warned that not prolonging the state of emergency would mean a total collapse of the health system, an uncontrolled spread of the epidemic, and a massive increase in mortality. In the last votes on the extension of the state of emergency in the Chamber of Deputies, the government relied on the votes of the KSČM. Still, its management today decided that it does not support the further duration of the emergency state. Other opposition parties agree that the government is not dealing with them at all.

“If the government wants to support the state of emergency, it should at least try to negotiate. So far, the prime minister has managed to make do with the communists,” said Fiala. On Monday, a team of ODS, the People’s Party, and TOP 09 will meet on the topic of Anticovid, and the parliamentary club will take the final position on Tuesday.

“However, there are no reasons to change the current position of the ODS. The government is resigned, and the Minister of Health himself says that the measures do not work,” he added. The ODS wants easier and faster compensation for entrepreneurs or faster vaccinations.

Bartoš also referred to the debate at the club together with STAN. “The prime minister has not yet turned to us with a request. In the past, however, we have refused to extend the state of emergency several times, as the government continues to fail to protect people and ignores our calls for redress,” he said. If the government is willing to act in the interests of the citizens and accept the Pirates and STAN proposals, which would help the country, it is ready to discuss the extension. He described it as sufficient compensation for the affected people or companies or a better solution in schools.

The chairwoman of TOP 09, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, stated that the party is ready to negotiate with the government. “However, the government has so far shown zero interest,” said. She described it as a symbol of the government’s fight against coronavirus, a dysfunctional reservation system for vaccinations, paratroop parties, or insufficient and slow help for entrepreneurs. “If it were now just a pious wish of Andrej Babiš’s cabinet, we would be clear, and we would not support further extensions at any cost. However, the lives and health of citizens are at stake. Now we must above all prevent the collapse of the health care system,” she said. TOP 09 will continue to discuss the Together coalition position and will make a final decision next week.

According to party chairman Marian Jurečka, the People’s Party is prepared to act on the condition that the government changes the compensation system or allows an increase in the compensation bonus. They also insist on the compensation law and the solution of the situation in schools. “The government does not manage these things and admits that repressive measures do not work either. It is impossible to live this way for a long time, and it is not possible to prolong the state of emergency without further adjustments. We are the worst in Europe, Jurečka said.

The Austrian stated that STAN and Pirates are preparing a plan to manage the pandemic with a view to the end of the year. “We are defining steps regarding compensation, pupil returns to schools, and new legislation that would replace the current emergency institute, which was also intended for short-term use by the legislator, for example, in the event of natural disasters,” he said. According to Bartoš, the new regulation should not interfere with the rights and freedoms of the public as a state of emergency. “If the basic conditions that follow from this plan are met, we are willing to negotiate support, but certainly not for a whole month,” the Austrian added.

The SPD insists that the state of emergency should not continue. “At the same time, we have repeatedly proposed to the government to implement an amendment to the Public Health Protection Act, which makes it possible to protect vulnerable and at-risk groups without a general declaration of a state of emergency,” SPD chairman Tomio Okamura said.