Czech CSSD 40th Congress


Social Democrats At Odds Over Poche Nomination

ANO, CSSD, Jan Hamacek, KSCM, Miloš Zeman

Prague, June 19 (CTK) – The Social Democrats (CSSD) should insist on the nomination of MEP Miroslav Poche for foreign minister, according to most of the leaders of CSSD regional branches whom CTK addressed today.


Only the leader of the South Bohemia branch, the party’s first deputy chairman Jiri Zimola, said the CSSD should consider offering a different candidate for foreign minister.


Poche’s nomination is opposed by President Milos Zeman and the Communists (KSCM) who promised to help the minority government of the ANO movement and the CSSD win the confidence vote in the lower house of parliament.


Prime Minister and ANO leader Andrej Babis and CSSD chairman Jan Hamacek will discuss this point of controversy tonight. They are to also talk with KSCM representatives.


Zeman said Poche is unacceptable because he supported the quotas for the redistribution of migrants in 2015. Poche wrote then that accepting 525 asylum seekers was a symbolic humanitarian gesture that the country should make.


The Communists claim that Poche voted against Czech interests and for the redistribution of migrants in the European Parliament. But Poche was against the redistribution in the given EP vote.


Babis said on Facebook that the nomination of Poche seems pointless because Zeman and the KSCM oppose it.


Petr Krcal, the CSSD Vysocina Region branch head who has been nominated for labour minister, said the CSSD’s recent referendum on the party’s participation in the government was linked to particular names of proposed ministers, including Poche.


South Moravia branch head Nadezda Kremeckova, too, expressed the view that the referendum was connected with given candidates for ministers. Neither the prime minister, nor the president, nor the Communist Party can withdraw this nomination, she pointed out.


Last Friday, Hamacek announced that a majority of the CSSD members decided that the party should join the Babis government.


Krcal said one of the regional branches that supported the government cooperation the most was Prague, which is Poche’s branch. “Prague contributed with the third highest number of voters to the referendum. I interpret this as the confirmation of Poche’s mandate,” Krcal told CTK.


On Monday, CSSD Prague branch head Petr Pavlik said mainly Babis should solve the dispute and push through Poche’s nomination. Pavlik said he can see no reason for the CSSD to join the government unless Babis does it.


CSSD Central Bohemia branch leader Robin Povsik said Poche had enormous experience in foreign politics and he was blamed for things that turned out to be wrongly attributed to him. The CSSD must not give up Poche’s nomination if it wants to maintain at least some dignity in the government, he added.


CSSD Liberec Region branch head Jan Mecl also said it would be no good to make any further concession.


Olomouc Region head Jiri Zemanek said the issue seemed complicated to him. “I have no information about what kind of game is played,” he said, indicating that challenging Poche may be only a pretext used to prevent the ANO-CSSD government from being formed.


Zeman previously recommended to Babis to form an alliance with the Communists and the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), but the ANO leadership rejected this possibility.


Hradec Kralove Region branch head Jan Birke did not comment on Poche today. On Saturday, Birke told CTK that Babis double-crossed the CSSD by rejecting Poche and that the CSSD should by no means give in.


Last weekend, Babis said he would not propose Zeman to appoint Poche as foreign minister.


Pardubice Region branch head Jan Chvojka, who also heads the CSSD lower house group, said he will comment on the issue only after a meeting between Poche and Zeman takes place.


Poche wants to present his plans in foreign policy to Zeman at the end of the week.


Zimola, who is known for his good relations with Zeman, told Czech Television (CT) that Lubomir Zaoralek would be a good replacement for Poche. Zeman wants to call on him to give up the post.


Zaoralek, foreign minister in the previous government of Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD), told news server that he was not going to seek any post.