‘Government Can Do as it Pleases’ – President Zeman No Need for Lower House Support

Prague, Dec 7 (CTK) – The government can take any steps, including personnel changes, even if it has not won support from the lower house of Czech parliament, President Milos Zeman told commercial TV Barrandov tonight.


Zeman appointed ANO leader Andrej Babis as new prime minister on December 6 and he plans to appoint Babis’s minority government on December 13.


None of the other parties in the lower house has promised Babis to support his government so far. They mostly mind the fact that the police investigate him over a suspected EU subsidy fraud.


Within 30 days after its appointment, the new government must ask the lower house for its support. Zeman previously challenged the view that a government cannot rule the country for long if it fails to win the confidence vote in parliament.


Zeman told TV Barrandov that Babis’s government may replace heads of state-controlled companies.


He said Babis showed dissatisfaction with the performance of the Export Guarantee and Insurance Corporation (EGAP) and the Czech Exports Bank (CEB).


Babis criticised a controversial project of the Yunus Emre coal-fired power plant in Turkey that the CEB and the EGAP supported. The EGAP suffered a loss of 1.25 billion crowns in 2016 mainly due to this project.


Zeman said he welcomed the plan of future minister Karla Slechtova (for ANO) who wants to send more Czech troops to foreign missions, especially to Afghanistan.


“I firmly believe that I will happen. We cannot declare we are against Islamic extremism and at the same time say we do not want our soldiers in foreign missions. This is cowardly, this is hypocritical,” he said.


Zeman said he shared 90 percent of his foreign policy views with the Foreign Ministry in the previous election term. He had a different opinion on the sanctions imposed on Russia, for example, he said.


In the past four years, the Foreign Ministry was headed by Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD).


Zeman said the president has the right to have his own opinion because according to the constitution the president helps set the foreign policy.