Czech Lower House


CSSD to Debate Support for Babis’s Government in Upcoming Congress

Prague, Feb 4 (CTK) – The Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) upcoming congress will decide on whether the CSSD should negotiate on forming a government with the election-winning ANO movement or switch into opposition, Jan Hamacek, CSSD deputy head who will run for chairman at the congress, said on Czech Television today.


The CSSD convoked the extraordinary national congress after its debacle in last October’s general election. The congress, to be held in Hradec Kralove, east Bohemia, on February 18, is to elect a new party leadership.


Hamacek said he expects the congress not to end on February 18 but to be interrupted and resumed later to fill further seats in the party leadership and possibly also discuss the development of the post-election negotiations.


Hamacek said the delegates to the congress should express their view on whether the CSSD should start negotiating on a government cooperation with Andrej Babis’s ANO movement.


The two parties launched bilateral negotiations a few weeks ago, but the talks were discontinued in late January.


The CSSD mustdecide whether to join the talks, Hamacek said today, adding that the CSSD is split on the issue and that he expects a thorough debate in this respect.


In the October general election, the CSSD, which was the strongest party and the senior government partner in the ending election term, gained only 15 seats in the 200-seat lower house, compared with its previous 50.


Before, then PM Bohuslav Sobotka resigned as CSSD chairman in June over the party’s low popularity.


There are seven candidates for the post of CSSD chairman.


The best-known of them, apart from Hamacek, who is lower house deputy head, are Milan Chovanec, the CSSD acting head and former interior minister, and Jiri Zimola, former governor of the South Bohemia Region.


Hamacek said today he would like the party chairman and at least a few deputy chairpersons to be elected on the first day of the congress so that they can form a team of negotiators on a new government, if the congress approved this.


“We can launch some probing talks and it would quickly turn out whether we are capable of reaching agreement,” Hamacek said about possible negotiations between the CSSD and ANO.


He said the CSSD congress could be resumed two or three weeks later to fill the rest of the leadership seats and possibly debate the progress made in the government-forming talks.


“I want CSSD members to have the strongest possible say in such decision making,” Hamacek said.


He said the CSSD would definitely be unable to finish the government-forming talks by the end of February. He said he views the end of March as a more realistic deadline.


ANO leader and outgoing PM Andrej Babis, whom President Milos Zeman in January assigned to launch new government-forming negotiations, has told daily Pravo that he would like to secure the lawmakers’ support for his new cabinet by the end of February.