Thursday, 23 November 2017

Zeman to charge Babiš with forming new government

ČTK |
23 October 2017

Prague, Oct 22 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman will name Andrej Babis, chairman of the winning ANO movement, as the new Czech prime minister, Zeman said in an interview with the Blesk.cz server on Sunday.

He said he would change his mind only if Babis were not interested in the prime minister's post.

Zeman added that he would like to help form a stable government during the post-election talks.

Zeman also said he would meet Babis at the presidential summer residence in Lany chateau near Prague on Monday.

"I keep my promises and I promised to appoint the election winner as prime minister," Zeman said.

Not even Babis's prosecution on suspicion of an EU subsidy fraud can change Zeman's decision to charge the ANO leader with forming a cabinet. Zeman said he considered the whole affair a police provocation.

Zeman said if he voted in the Chamber of Deputies on the release of Babis and ANO first deputy head Jaroslav Faltynek for prosecution in this case, he would be against it.

The new Chamber of Deputies that emerged from the weekend election will have to decide on their release for prosecution again since they defended their mandates.

Zeman also said he would consider the Pirates' participation in a new government logical as the party had experts in digitisation.

The Pirates claimed before the October 20-21 general elections that they would like to be in opposition and rejected cooperation with Babis. However, almost nothing can be pushed through from opposition, Zeman added.

The Pirate Party scored a great success in the election, fared third with 10.8 percent of the vote and entered the Chamber of Deputies for the first time in history. ANO won with 29.6 percent, followed by right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) with 11.3 percent.

Zeman also pointed out that personal aversion to Babis should not prevent the effort to improve the situation in the Czech Republic.

Zeman also said he would welcome it the Social Democrats (CSSD) stayed in the government despite their election losses.

"This will naturally depend mainly on the election winner and then on the CSSD alone. Whether is will play being offended or will accept a pragmatic solution," Zeman said.

In this respect, he mentioned a possible continuation of the current government coalition of ANO, the CSSD and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) that would have 103 MPs in 200-seat lower house.

Zeman also said he would not mind appointing a government that would include the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) of Tomio Okamura He refused to call it an extremist grouping.

"A characteristic programme point of this party is direct democracy. Since when has direct democracy been extremism?" Zeman told the server.

He did to comment on the SPD's radical stance on Islam. He just said he rejected Islamist radicals and terrorists.

In the interview, Zeman refused to label Babis a populist. He called him a political pragmatist with whom he agreed in many areas.

Zeman, however, criticised Babis for not being well versed in foreign policy. He challenged Babis's refusal of the euro and said the Czech Republic should adopt the single European currency if Greece left the euro zone.

Babis does not understand the expansion into Eastern markets either, for instance, in Russia and China, Zeman added.

ANO won the October 20-21 general election with 29.6 percent, followed by the ODS with 11.3 percent and the Pirates with 10.8 percent of the vote. Another six parties also entered the Chamber of Deputies: the SPD with 10.6 percent, the Communists (KSCM) with 7.8 percent, the CSSD with 7.3 percent, the KDU-CSL with 5.8 percent, TOP 09 with 5.3 percent and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) with 5.2 percent.

ANO will have 78 seats in the 200-seat lower house, the ODS 25, the SPD and the Pirates 22 each, the KSCM and the CSSD 15 each, the KDU-CSL ten, TOP 09 seven and STAN six.

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