Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis


Opposition Party Leaders Call for Babis’s Ouster After Failing to Win Confidence Vote

Prague, (CTK) – The leaders of the Czech right-wing and centrist opposition parties sharply criticised Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) after his minority government lost the confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies today when no MP from any of the eight other parties voted in its support.


The right-wing Civic Democrat (ODS) leader Petr Fiala said the lost confidence vote is a political failure and big defeat of Babis. The three months that passed from the October general election were waisted, he said.


“The ANO chairman should wake from his dream about a one-party minority government, he should start normally working towards a government with a majority support in the Chamber,” Fiala told journalists.


Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) head Pavel Belobradek said the first attempt to form a government was useless and wasted, and the lost confidence vote is a managerial failure of Babis and President Milos Zeman. Babis did not make enough effort to negotiate with the other parties, he added.


Fiala said Babis should find out whether there is any party in the Chamber that does not mind that he as prime minister is facing criminal prosecution. If he finds no such party, the ANO movement should find somebody else than Babis to form a coalition government, he added.


The Chamber will be deciding whether it should strip Babis and ANO first deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltynek of their MP’s immunity so that the Czech police can prosecute them over a suspected EU subsidy fraud. Its mandate and immunity committee recommended today that Babis and Faltynek be released for prosecution. Babis repeatedly rejected the idea, but this morning he announced that he would ask the Chamber to strip him of his immunity.


Fiala also called on President Zeman to take further steps only after the presidential runoff or to entrust with leading negotiations about the next government somebody who will try to accomplish the task in a responsible way.


“I expect the president to refrain from political decisions until his further mandate is clear,” Fiala tweeted.


Pirate leader Ivan Bartos expressed the same position. He said the president would play a crucial role in the process of the formation of the next government.


Bartos said he hoped Zeman would meet his pledge to demand that the next prime minister presents the signatures of at least 101 MPs supporting his government.


Zeman is seeking re-election as president. He is fighting for the post with academic Jiri Drahos. The runoff will take place on January 26-27. Zeman’s current presidential mandate expires in March.


Belobradek said he considers the speedy appointment of a government without support in the Chamber to be Zeman’s strategy before the first round of the presidential election. Zeman should have insisted that Babis prove that majority of MPs support his government before naming him prime minister.


Further developments will depend on the result of the presidential election, Belobradek told journalists.


Zeman previously expressed support for Babis and said he would appoint Babis prime minister again if his first attempt to form a cabinet failed.


Right-wing TOP 09 chairman Jiri Pospisil tweeted that Babis failed and Zeman should not give him another chance, but let somebody more responsible negotiate about the next government.


Mayors and Independents (centrist STAN) head Petr Gazdik called on the ANO movement to start reasonable talks about a government that would win the confidence vote.


STAN lower house group’s head Jan Farsky said the ANO movement might form a coalition with the KDU-CSL and the Social Democrats (CSSD) if Zeman entrusted some other ANO politician with negotiating about the formation of the next government.


“Until now, we have seen power games of Babis and Zeman who want to keep in power as much as possible, but it is not to the benefit of the citizens,” Farsky said.


The CSSD expects ANO to start negotiating with the other parties, its lower house group’s head Jan Chvojka said. Until now, ANO did not talk with the others, but it only set its own conditions, he added.


Babis set up a cabinet without consulting any partners, which was a waste of time, Chvojka said.


He said the Social Democrats would enter the government under several conditions, including that no minister is criminally prosecuted.