Zeman Accepts Resignation, Entrusts Babis to Form New Government

Andrej Babis Milos Zeman

Prague, (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman accepted the resignation of the minority government of Andrej Babis (ANO), assigned it to rule the country until the appointment of a new cabinet and entrusted Babis with leading the talks on its formation today.


Zeman wished Babis, who submitted the resignation to him at Prague Castle, success in his effort.


Zeman also said that if he were not re-elected president, he would no longer require the signatures of a majority of MPs, at least 101 in the 200-seat lower house, from ANO chairman Babis in support of his new government, and that he would appoint him prime minister in February.


Babis met Zeman at Prague Castle, the presidential seat, two days before the presidential election’s runoff, in which Zeman would be competing with academic Jiri Drahos. ANO expressed support for Zeman.


Babis’s government approved its resignation a week ago, five weeks after its appointment, as the Chamber of Deputies did not vote confidence in it. It was supported only by the 78 ANO MPs.


“I thereby entrust you to lead the talks on the government’s formation and wish you success in this,” Zeman said today.


Babis said he expects the new round of government-forming negotiations to have “a very different” character than the previous round.


Unlike in the first attempt to form a government, he feels that other parties would allow for serious negotiations, Babis said. ANO did not have a chance to negotiate because most of the parties resolutely rejected it, he added.


“Let’s hope that they will take us seriously. They will be in a position to clearly say under what conditions they are ready to join the government or tolerate it,” Babis said.


Zeman assigned Babis with the same task last October after the general election. This is an informal step that is not embedded in the constitution and is to precede Babis’s appointment as PM.


Zeman previously said he would give Babis enough time for negotiations about the formation of his government during the second try and that he would demand a majority support secured in the Chamber of Deputies from him.


However, Zeman changed his mind today, saying that were he not re-elected, he would appoint Babis PM in February, before his term as head of state expires on March 8.


“Since there will be a fairly short time to obtain the necessary number of votes, I will not insist on this condition,” Zeman said.


The Presidential Office originally announced that Zeman would accept the resignation at the end of last week. But Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek changed the date later, justifying it with Zeman’s busy schedule.


Ovcacek said Zeman was preparing for an election TV duel with Drahos. Later, he said Zeman had undergone a minor medical intervention in his mouth in hospital last week.