Andrej Babis

Matt Atlas

Babis Prepared To Step Aside After Losing Election

The current Prime Minister and head of ANO Andrej Babiš will not accept an authorization from President Miloš Zeman to negotiate a cabinet as the leader of the strongest party. He is ready with his movement to hand over the government to the emerging coalition of five parties without obstruction and to join the opposition. Babiš has previously indicated that he will probably not try to form a government, given that the five opposition parties still have a majority of 108 votes in the new House and YES do not want to negotiate a government arrangement.

According to the Prime Minister of the old government, the “anti-Ababišov five-block” is firm, so he would not accept the task of negotiating a new cabinet from Zeman, even though YES won the election for the number of seats. “We will pass it on to the new coalition and we will be in opposition,” Babiš said today in an interview with Frekvencia 1 .

“I will not accept the president’s offer to form a government. We will go into opposition without a single attempt. We will not hold any positions, we will not block anything. I care that our country prospers as under our government,” Babiš later wrote on twitter.

The election was won last weekend by the opposition coalition Together, which consists of the ODS, KDU-ČSL and TOP 09, won 71 seats, and YES has one more seat in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies. Zeman repeatedly said before the election that he would entrust negotiations on the government to the leader of the victorious party or movement, not a coalition, which he described as voter fraud. However, together with another still opposition formation of Pirates and STAN, they are negotiating a government and believe that Zeman will respect this clear parliamentary majority.

Babiš reiterated today that Zeman had confirmed his commitment to entrust him with negotiating his government as the party’s leader with the largest parliamentary group, on the day after the election on Sunday, shortly before his transfer from Lány Castle to the Central Military Hospital. He considered it polite to be the first to tell the president directly, but given Zeman’s current stay in the intensive care unit, their meeting was postponed until the health of the head of state improved. The ODS leader and candidate Together for Prime Minister Petr Fiala are also waiting for a meeting with Zeman, according to Hrad, the meeting is to take place at a “later date”.

The mandate to negotiate the formation of the government is a custom introduced by President Vaclav Havel. The constitution speaks only of the power of the president to appoint the prime minister and his cabinet. The Prime Minister must then ask the House for confidence within 30 days. If he does not get it, the president has a second attempt to appoint a prime minister. If the deputies do not trust the government this time either, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies gets the third attempt to form a cabinet.

The post-election situation could be complicated by the health condition of the president, who has been at the intensive care clinic of the Prague Central Military Hospital (ÚVN) since Sunday. The castle has not yet provided more detailed information or a forecast, but according to Zeman’s collaborators, hospitalization does not endanger post-election negotiations and the constitutional situation. Physicians do not have the patient’s consent to publish the diagnosis.

The Coalition Together and the Pirates want STAN to negotiate a government so that they can sign a coalition agreement by November 8. On the same day, the Chamber of Deputies could meet for the first time in a new composition, where Babiš’s minority government ANO and the CSSD will submit a resignation, which is accepted by the president. At the same time, it entrusts the existing ministers with the function of appointing a new cabinet.

According to many commentators, the loss of YES will lead to Babiš’s candidacy for president. The Prime Minister repeatedly does not want to comment on this possibility, but even today he did not directly rule it out. According to him, his government now has other concerns, such as the covid epidemic or the energy situation. “Until the new Prime Minister, ODS President (Petr) Fiala, takes office, we will work until the last minute. I go to work every day and I will continue to do so, because I am a person who is responsible and I do it out of conviction,” he said. Earlier, when asked by a listener about his Czech, the interviewer corrected that he was not seeking a presidential post. He had previously said that he had no ambition to sit in the leadership of the new House, that he intended to serve as an ordinary member of parliament and would like to work in the health committee.