Tuesday, 22 May 2018

ČSSD's presence in Babiš gov't may depend on Chovanec

20 March 2017

Prague, March 18 (CTK) - Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec recently defended the post of Social Democrat (CSSD) first deputy chairman, which makes him the politician likely to decide whether the CSSD joins a cabinet headed by ANO leader Andrej Babis after the election, Alexandr Mitrofanov says in daily Pravo on Saturday.

ANO is the favourite of the autumn general election and opinion polls indicate that there is a big gap between the popularity of ANO and the runner-up CSSD.

Mitrofanov says the Social Democrats may remove their current leader, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, if they do not win the elections. In such a case, the post-election negotiations about a new government would be led by Chovanec who would the acting head until the election of a new CSSD leader.

Chovanec supports Sobotka in the strong rejection of the possibility that the CSSD would be a junior coalition partner in a government led by Babis, Mitrofanov writes.

Many CSSD politicians would support this possibility, however, he adds.

But Chovanec is even more radical than Sobotka: he says ANO is a horrible group of one man, the billionaire Babis, who would like to return a semi-dictatorship in the country, Mitrofanov writes.

Chovanec is dubbed a traitor of traitors: he was part of a group of CSSD senior politicians backed by President Milos Zeman who tried to oust Sobotka as party leader after the 2013 general election, but whose attempt failed, also because Chovanec decided to join Sobotka's camp.

Mitrofanov says one must keep this in mind, yet such a U-turn, from radical opposition to participation in the Babis government to an alliance with Babis, would fatally harm the trustworthiness of Chovanec.

However, there is one factor they may influence Chovanec's stance - President Zeman, Mitrofanov writes.

Zeman made it clear that he would prefer a government of ANO and the CSSD after the elections. Both Zeman and Babis do not want Sobotka to be in this government. And when Zeman has some plans, nothing can stop him, not even the Great Wall of China, Mitrofanov writes.

When Zeman will fly to the United States to meet Donald Trump in April, he will be accompanied by Babis and Chovanec. During the flights over the Atlantic, Zeman will do his utmost to change Chovanec's stance, Mitrofanov says.

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