Social Democrats Demand Babis Resign If Convicted Of Subsidy Fraud

Andrej Babis Jan Hamacek

Prague, April 20 (CTK) – The Social Democrats (CSSD) will demand that a coalition agreement with ANO says any government member will resign if convicted, even if the verdict can be appealed, in view of the criminal prosecution of PM and ANO head Andrej Babis, CSSD deputy head Martin Netolicky said today.

 

He talked to reporters before the afternoon meeting of the CSSD board that started debating the renewal of talks with ANO on government cooperation.

 

CSSD deputy chairman Roman Onderka confirmed before the meeting that ANO had offered five ministries to the CSSD, including the Interior Ministry.

 

The others are the ministries of labour and social affairs, agriculture, culture and defence or foreign affairs, according to CTK sources.

 

The CSSD central executive committee may decide on the results of the revived government talks with ANO next Saturday, Netolicky said.

 

Opponents of the CSSD-ANO cooperation in the party say it will depend on how the Social Democrats will manage to defend their role. A part of the CSSD regional leaders reject cooperation with ANO, deputy chairman Jaroslav Foldyna said.

 

CSSD senator Petr Vicha indicated that the CSSD members primarily mind Babis’s criminal prosecution on suspicion of an EU subsidy fraud and his collaboration with the former Communist secret police (StB).

 

Moreover, he pointed out that ANO together with the CSSD would not command an absolute majority of 101 votes in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies and would be dependent on support of the Communists (KSCM).

 

As ANO has 78 mandates and the CSSD 15, their coalition amendment would need support of the KSCM with 15 MPs to win confidence in the lower house.

 

Onderka said he cannot imagine cooperation with ANO if the Social Democrats were not able to influence the ministries connected with the party’s programme priorities.

 

The CSSD broad leadership is most likely only to decide whether the party will continue to negotiate with ANO on government or not, but the final decision will be up to the party members in an Internet referendum.

 

Senate chairman Milan Stech (CSSD) reiterated that he opposed cooperation with ANO and that the CSSD should not be in government, but should rather focus on the preparation of the autumn local and Senate election.

 

Babis’s ANO minority government resigned after it lost a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies in January, but keeps ruling pending the talks on a new cabinet.

 

The Social Democrats terminated the talks with ANO two weeks ago as it was not ready to comply with the CSSD’s demand that Babis should not be nominated as prime minister because of his criminal prosecution. Zeman then called on Babis to conduct the talks on the government with the Communists and the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD). However, since a number of ANO lawmakers refused to cooperate with the SPD, ANO decided to resume the talks with the Social Democrats last week.

 

On Monday, ANO offered to the CSSD conditions under which their coalition talks could be re-opened. Both parties agreed not to comment on them until the Friday meeting of the CSSD leadership.