Zeman Remains Optimistic Babis Will Find Support 2nd Time Around

Prague, Dec 21 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman feels almost sure that the second government led by Andrej Babis (ANO) would win the necessary support from parliament and Babis would be able to choose between two or three parties ready to tolerate his rule, he told the private TV Barrandov tonight.


Babis told public Czech Television (CT) earlier today that if his second attempt to win a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies failed as well, his ANO movement would seek an early election.


This week, ANO negotiated with the other parties in parliament about possible support for its minority cabinet that Zeman recently appointed.


Babis said today that none of the eight parties except for the Communists (KSCM) were willing to consider tolerating his present cabinet.


The confidence vote in it will be held on January 10, two days before the start of the first round of the direct presidential election in which Zeman is defending his post.


Zeman repeatedly said tonight that he would entrust Babis with trying to form a government again if his first attempt fails. He said he wanted to give Babis to feel secure. “He does not have to be hysterical, be nervous or make mistakes,” he said.


Some opposition politicians claim that Babis and Zeman made a power pact, helping one another to keep the posts of prime minister and president.


Zeman said he expects the first government of Babis to lose the confidence vote because some parties want to keep their trustworthiness and prestige.


Before the October general election, most Czech parties said they would not support a government with a prosecuted prime minister. The police started prosecuting Babis over a suspected EU subsidy fraud in the autumn. The Chamber of Deputies is yet to decide whether to strip Babis of his lawmaker’s immunity and release him for prosecution.


Babis said today he had the impression that the Civic Democrats (ODS), the Pirates and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) believed they would have good chances in an early election. He added this would not be the best solution.


The latest CVVM opinion poll showed that the ANO movement continues to be the by far most popular party in the country and that the Pirates and the Social Democrats (CSSD) might improve their results, while the small TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) might not enter the Chamber.


ANO has 78 seats in the 200-member Chamber, the second strongest ODS has 25 seats, the Pirates 22 and the SPD 22.


Babis admitted that his present government is likely to fail in the confidence vote and that the second attempt would be crucial.


Zeman said he likes the draft policy statement that Babis’s minority cabinet approved on Monday. However, too little attention is paid to investments, he added.


Zeman said he will comment on the cabinet’s plans in more detail in the speech he will deliver in the Chamber of Deputies before the confidence vote on January 10.