Andrej Babis and Milos Zeman


Zeman To Reappoint Babis PM Amid Mass Protests

Andrej Babiš, Miloš Zeman

Prague, June 5 (CTK) – ANO chairman Andrej Babis will take his oath as Czech prime minister at Prague Castle once again after six months on Wednesday, when President Milos Zeman will appoint him to the post following his current single-party cabinet’s failure to gain the confidence of parliament.


Zeman will use the second try to appoint the prime minister after the October 2017 general election, granted to him by the constitution. He is going to keep his previous promise and appoint Babis, whose ANO smoothly won the election with 30 percent of the vote, for the second time.


Babis’s current government, which has been ruling as a caretaker since January, consists of ANO nominees only. In the meantime, ANO has been negotiating on forming a minority coalition government with the Social Democrats (CSSD), which would be kept afloat by the Communists (KSCM).


In the past months, Zeman has repeatedly changed his mind about the conditions under which he would appoint a new PM.


Before his first appointment of Babis last December, Zeman did not ask him to submit signatures of at least 101 deputies as evidence of his majority support in the lower house.


Before the second try, Zeman originally said he would require the signatures of a majority from Babis, but eventually he backpedalled on this demand.


Nevertheless, Zeman says he expects the new cabinet to win the lower house’s confidence.


In late May, Zeman said he will appoint Babis PM still before the CSSD announces the result of its ongoing internal referendum on whether to join the government project. The referendum’s outcome is to be known on June 15.


Zeman said by not delaying Babis’s appointment, he wants to speed up the cabinet’s birth. The step is a pressure exerted on both the CSSD and Babis, Zeman said.


Following a recent meeting with Zeman, Babis said that after being appointed PM, he will be given certain time to present his cabinet members, whom Zeman also wants to meet.


Babis said his cabinet might ask parliament for a confidence vote in the week starting on July 10. He said the cabinet lineup will be clearer after mid-June when the CSSD is to announce its referendum outcome.


The CSSD is to have five seats – the ministries of interior, foreign affairs, labour and social affairs, culture and agriculture – in the 15-seat coalition cabinet. The CSSD has presented its nominations to the posts, unlike Babis, who says the names of the ANO nominees are not yet clear.


On a visit to South Bohemia today, Babis said he will not introduce ANO’s ministerial candidates to Zeman on the occasion of the appointment ceremony on Wednesday.


Out of the current ministers, the cabinet definitely will not contain Justice Minister Robert Pelikan and Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky, both of whom do not want to continue in the government.


Speculations surround the prospects of Defence Minister Karla Slechtova and Transport Minister Dan Tok.


With Babis’s appointment as PM designate, the second ever longest period of time between a Czech cabinet’s resignation and the appointment of a new PM will end. A total of 140 days will elapse since the resignation of Babis’s first cabinet on Wednesday.


The period of waiting for a new PM was longer only in 2013, when the Jiri Rusnok caretaker cabinet lost a confidence vote and Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) was appointed new prime minister after 157 days. In the meantime, unlike now, the lower house was dissolved and an early election was held in the autumn of 2013.


In all other cases in the history of the independent Czech Republic, the period between a cabinet’s resignation and the appointment of a new PM was always shorter than one month.


The period between the latest general election and parliament’s motion of confidence in a new government will be the longest now since 1993. Before, the record in this respect was held by the period in late 2006 and early 2007, when a cabinet of PM Mirek Topolanek (Civic Democrats, ODS) succeeded in winning confidence on a second try only, 230 days after the preceding elections.


On Wednesday, 228 days will elapse since the October 2017 elections, but it will take further time before Babis’s new cabinet wins a confidence vote in parliament.