Andrej Babis


Babis’s Cabinet Falls Apart: ANO Ministers Dropping Like Flies

Andrej Babiš, ANO, Corruption

Prague, May 18 (CTK) – Andrej Babis’s ANO minority cabinet, which has always presented itself as firmly united, seems to be crumbling now and only a few of its “very hard-working” members will join the new coalition cabinet ANO wants to form with the Social Democrats (CSSD), Josef Koukal writes in Pravo today.


He reacts to the information about the possible departures of Karla Slechtova as defence minister and Dan Tok as transport minister.


If Czech ministers were sacked for scandalous statements, money wasting and shortcomings in public procurement, no one would have remained in the cabinet by now. If really forced to go, Slechtova definitely would not go due to a crazy photo with her little dog on an unknown soldier’s grave or due to her use of expensive V.I.P. lounges at the Prague airport, which are her latest media “scandals,” Koukal writes.


Tok, on his part, could have been replaced as early as two years ago due to problems accompanying the road toll system. The voluntary character of Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky’s envisaged switch to the post of the ambassador to Israel and Robert Pelikan’s announced departure as justice minister can also be speculated about, Koukal writes.


Cracks have appeared in the “monolithic” cabinet, which lost a confidence vote in January and continues ruling until its successor is established. The ending ministers accept their replacement with a fatalist motto: “After giving the post to me, Babis has taken it now away,” Koukal writes.


He quotes Slechtova as saying “If Babis is no longer interested in my services after 3.5 years of knowing me, I naturally will not leave my post spurned.”


Babis still conceals the final number and identity of the ministers to be replaced. “I have it in my mind, and it will keep there for the time being,” he said, cited by Koukal.


Babis would not disclose the planned cabinet lineup even to the CSSD whose members are to decide in a party referendum on whether the CSSD should join the cabinet, Koukal writes.


In the meantime, talks about the planned cabinet have been underway between ANO and CSSD leaders with the active participation of Vojtech Filip’s Communists (KSCM), who are supposed to keep the ANO-CSSD minority cabinet afloat, and President Milos Zeman, Koukal continues.


Zeman has already confirmed in public that he refuses to accept MEP Miroslav Poche as the CSSD’s nominee for foreign minister. In the January presidential election, Poche supported the rival candidate of Zeman, which the latter can never forgive to him, Koukal writes.


Nevertheless, Zeman, former CSSD chairman in 1993-2001, who fell out with the party in the mid-2000s, has recommended that the CSSD should buy the pig in a poke and support the ANO-CSSD government project in the forthcoming internal referendum without knowing ANO’s representatives in it, Koukal writes.


With Babis refusing to reveal the names of the ten ministerial candidates of ANO, the question arises of whether the candidates include controversial faces that, if revealed, could threaten the positive outcome of the CSSD’s internal referendum due on May 21-June 14, Koukal writes.


Out of ANO’s outgoing ministers whom Babis trusts and who can be expected to appear in his new cabinet, the most promising in this respect are [Finance Minister] Alena Schillerova, [Health Minister] Adam Vojtech and [Deputy PM and Environment Minister] Richard Brabec. As for the others, the number of “red cards” has been rising, Koukal writes.


On the part of the CSSD, which is to have five seats in the 15-seat coalition cabinet, party chairman Jan Hamacek has confirmed his own nomination for interior minister, a post held by Lubomir Metnar in the current ANO government, Koukal writes.


If the CSSD referendum gives the green light to the party to form a government with ANO, CSSD members may still expect surprising proposals and demands from Babis, Zeman and Filip, Koukal writes.