Monday, 22 October 2018

Babiš's gov't may rule long even without parliament's support

30 October 2017

Prague, Oct 27 (CTK) - A possible cabinet led by Andrej Babis, whose ANO movement clearly won the Czech general election one week ago, could rule the country for a long time even if it did not get the required majority support in the Chamber of Deputies.

Not even using all three attempts at forming a government without winning a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament necessarily leads to a dissolution of the lower house and thereby to an early election. After a third failed attempt, the president may dissolve the lower house, but he does not have to do it. A government that proposed its resignation might thus rule for the whole four-year election period.

President Milos Zeman indicated such a possibility. However, constitutional lawyer Jan Kudrna told CTK that such a step would go against fundamental principles of the constitution, which expects a government that won parliament's support to rule the country.

Babis told news server on Friday that he may form a minority cabinet of ANO's ministers and unaffiliasted experts.

It is the president who has the first and second try at nominating a prime minister. Zeman has announced he would entrust Babis with negotiating about the lineup of the new cabinet next Tuesday, which is a traditional step, not a constitutional demand. The constitution empowers the president to nominate both the prime minister and the ministers. Within one month, the Chamber of Deputies then has to take a motion of confidence in the government.

If the government fails to win confidence, it hands in its resignation and the process can be repeated once again. The president is not limited by any deadline and he can nominate the same prime minister and the same cabinet members as before. If the second cabinet does not win the parliament's confidence either, it also resigns and keeps ruling. Further steps to be taken depend on the head of the new Chamber of Deputies who has the third try to choose a prime minister.

ANO MP Radek Vondracek is the favourite candidate for lower house chairman. Civic Democrat (ODS) leader Petr Fiala will also be running for the post.

The new lower house head may again nominate the same prime minister, in this case Babis.

If it failed to win support from a majority of MPs, the new cabinet would have to submit its resignation, too. In such a situation the president may dissolve the lower house as a step leading towards an early election. But the constitution does not say the president must dissolve the Chamber of Deputies. The president must dissolve it only if at least 120 out of 200 MPs agree on the dissolution.

On Thursday, Zeman told TV Barrandov that he need not dissolve the lower house after a failed third attempt and that both the Chamber of Deputies and the government in resignation may keep operating.

Kudrna said if the president did not dissolve the lower house, he should nominate another government and the second round of the three attempts at forming a government would start.

The direct presidential election that will be held next January may affect the post-election process. Zeman is defending his post and his current mandate will expire in March. However, some other presidential candidate with a different opinion on the forming of a new government and dissolving the parliament may succeed in the presidential election.

The minority cabinet of Mirek Topolanek (ODS) failed to win confidence and it ruled the country from September 2006 to January 2007. Topolanek then set up a different government that won a majority support from the lower house.

The caretaker cabinet of Jiri Rusnok proposed its resignation and ruled the country from July 2013 to January 2014. In August 2013 the Chamber of Deputies agreed on its dissolution and an early election was held in October.

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