Zeman to Appoint Babis’s Minority Cabinet Today

Prague, Dec 12 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman will appoint a one-colour cabinet of PM Andrej Babis (ANO) at the Prague Castle on Wednesday afternoon, after which it will hold its first meeting.


Following the meeting, Babis is to inaugurate the first seven ministers. ANO is to begin negotiating on the support for its minority cabinet next week. Other parties are mostly not willing to give confidence to the cabinet though.


In the morning, Babis’s cabinet is to go by bus to Lany, the seat of the presidential chateau, to lay a wreath on the tomb of the first Czechoslovak President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk. Previous cabinets of prime ministers Zeman (1998), Vladimir Spidla (2002) and Jiri Rusnok (2013) paid a similar reverential act, but always only after the ceremony at the Prague Castle. Babis previously justified the reverse order of the events by a lack of time.


After the reverential act, the cabinet will move to the Chamber of Deputies, where it is to participate in the talks of the Committee for EU Affairs. It will be dealing with the stance Babis will maintain at the EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.


The ceremony to be held at the Prague Castle will begin at 14:00, and at 15:00, Babis will meet the outgoing PM Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD), outgoing deputy prime minister for science Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) and outgoing human rights minister Jan Chvojka (CSSD).


The cabinet’s first meeting will follow. It is to discuss Babis’s mandate for the EU summit and it is to appoint the head of the Government Office and the cabinet’s spokesperson. The ANO movement previously confirmed that it will appoint Radek Augustin and Barbora Peterova for the two posts respectively.


In the evening after the cabinet’s meeting, Babis will inaugurate seven ministers beginning with previous regional development minister Karla Slechtova as the defence minister, and previous defence minister Martin Stropnicky as the foreign minister. Further five first-time ministers to be inaugurated are Lubomir Metnar as the interior minister, Tomas Huner as the industry and trade minister, Jaroslava Nemcova as the labour and social affairs minister, Adam Vojtech as the health minister and Alena Schillerova as the finance minister.


Further four ministers will be inaugurated on Monday.


The current cabinet members which continue in the same ministries, Transport Minister Dan Tok, Justice Minister Robert Pelikan and Environment Minister Richard Brabec, need not be inaugurated.


As opposed to the present cabinet, the new one will not have the post of human rights minister and Pelikan will also head the legislative council. The Council for Research and Development should be headed by Babis instead by the deputy prime minister.


The cabinet intends to establish the post of a sports commissioner, which is to be occupied by former ice hockey goalkeeper Milan Hnilicka, and of an IT commissioner, which is to be held by Vladimir Dzurilla, director general of State Treasury Shared Service Center (SPCSS) at the Finance Ministry.


Next week, Babis is to negotiate with the other parliamentary parties on support for his cabinet. The first round of these talks is to take place before Christmas and the second round after the New Year. According to the Aktualne.cz server, Babis plans to hold the vote of confidence on January 9, three days before the end of the statutory deadline for it.


The majority of parties is not willing to support the minority cabinet though. The Civic Democrat (ODS) leadership approved such stance on Monday and representatives of the Pirates, CSSD, KDU-CSL, TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) joined ODS in it today. The Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) movement’s national conference decided the party could support only a cabinet that will fulfil its programme.


The Communists (KSCM) are the only party whose stance remains open and the party’s head Vojtech Filip said today that an extraordinary meeting of its executive committee has been called to discuss confidence in the cabinet. Another party’s support would be needed, however, even if KSCM did back the cabinet. ANO has 78 deputies, while KSCM has 15, in a chamber of 200 deputies.