Andrej Babis Prime Minister Czech Republic

Petr Dubinsky

Parliament Extends Government’s Emergency Powers

The Chamber of Deputies approved the ANO and CSSD minority government’s request to extend the state of emergency by 30 days. In addition to coalition deputies, KSČM deputies who tolerated the cabinet in the lower house also voted in favor of the proposal. Opposition parties did not support the proposal.

The government will extend the state of emergency at Wednesday’s meeting. It could also discuss a possible tightening of anti-drug restrictions resulting from the country’s planned move from the fourth to fifth-degree risk in the PES system.

55 out of 104 deputies present voted in favor of extending the state of emergency. Legislators from the ranks of Pirates, SPD, TOP 09, STAN, and unclassified voted against. The Civic Democrats and the People’s Party abstained.

Under the current situation, the state of emergency would end on Wednesday, 23 December. Most government anti-coronavirus measures bind to it. “We are on the same ship, I know that. I am sad and fully aware of it, but we still have to take measures that hurt. And to do so, we need a state of emergency. There is no other option,” said Minister of Health Jan Blatný. It is also possible to deploy, for example, soldiers to help, among other things, in health care and homes for the elderly.

The chairman of KDU-ČSL, Marian Jurečka, withdrew the proposal to extend the state of emergency by 16 days until 8 January. He justified the step by saying that the government did not signal its willingness to increase the so-called compensation bonus for affected entrepreneurs from 15,000 to 20,000 crowns per month, which was a condition for the People’s Party. However, the Chamber of Deputies supported one of the seven points of the KDU-ČSL, ODS, and TOP 09 resolutions, calling on the government to submit as soon as possible the promised amendment to the crisis legislation, which would regulate the rules of emergency and crisis management.

In a four-hour debate, opposition members again harshly criticized the cabinet for its progress in the epidemic. The allegations were aimed at anti-epidemic restrictions, compensation for loss of income, and preparations for vaccination against covid-19. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš accused the opposition of hypocrisy. “You’re doing the exact opposite. Your talk, no one takes it seriously,” he said.

In the autumn’s second wave of the epidemic, a state of emergency has been in place since 5 October. At the end of October, the Chamber of Deputies agreed to extend the state of emergency according to the proposal of part of the opposition by 17 days, in the second half of November by 22 days. For the last time by 11 days, according to the KSČM proposals. The government has always wanted a month. In the spring, the state of emergency in the Czech Republic due to the coronavirus crisis lasted 66 days. The current one is currently 79 days, and it will now last at least 109 days.