Monday, 20 November 2017

Social Democrats heading for opposition

ČTK |
2 November 2017

Prague, Nov 1 (CTK) - Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) want to have dignified conditions for the work in opposition for which they are heading, acting party leader Milan Chovanec told journalists before a meeting with ANO on Wednesday.

Andrej Babis' election-winning ANO offered the post of head of a Chamber of Deputies committee to the Social Democrats at the meeting of the two parties' representatives later on Wednesday.

In October, the CSSD said it would like to have the post of chairman of the social, health, security, foreign or European committees in the lower house.

ANO deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltynek said the offer had related to one of them.

The Social Democrats will also support the budget bill for next year, drafted by the current government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD), Chovanec said before the meeting.

Chovanec said he wanted to say that the CSSD would support the budget, although it was about to go into opposition.

The Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), too, said they were ready to support the budget bill.

"If the Chamber of Deputies is constituted and this is a bill to whose drafting our government members contributed, we may be ready to support the budget bill," KDU-CSL deputy chairman Jan Bartosek told journalists.

The Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and ANO form a three-party coalition government.

Chovanec said the Social Democrats would also support the proposal to increase pensions, to be presented by ANO, if it were sensible.

Faltynek said this approach was constructive.

"We want to make it clear that we insist on stability of the Czech Republic," Chovanec said.

In the October 20-21 election, the CSSD was defending its 20.5 percent of the vote from 2013, but it only gained 7.3 percent and 15 mandates in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies.

"We have 7 percent, they are the winners. We do not have any demands. We want the opposition to have dignified conditions for its work," Chovanec said.

Chovanec said ANO still insisted on filling the post of chairman of the Chamber of Deputies with Radek Radek Vondracek, while the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) proposed its chairman Petr Fiala.

Faltynek said current head of the Chamber of Deputies Jan Hamacek (CSSD) could become its new deputy chairman.

"If the majority in the Chamber of Deputies agrees on its having five deputy chairpersons, the Social Democrats told us they would nominate Hamacek," Faltynek said.

Chovanec, too, spoke about an agreement on the number of the posts, but he said the party had not demanded the post of deputy chairman.

CSSD deputy chairman Jan Birke said he would not resign from his post before the party's extraordinary congress.

He told journalists that he was motivated for this by the support he felt from his fellow party members in the Hradec Kralove Region as well as the party's financial situation.

"The CSSD has serious financial problems. At the moment all of us would resign, we might face a complicated situation towards banks," Birke said.

He said on the Friday meeting of the party board that he would convey the view of the Hradec Kralove organisation that the congress should be held as soon as possible, which meant next February.

Birke said he had not yet made up his mind on whether to seek re-election.

Last Friday, the CSSD leadership decided that the congress should be held on April 7, when the party will celebrate its 140th anniversary. It is to decide on the current party leadership.

However, the party's regional organisations insist on an earlier date. This is why Chovanec will submit two alternative dates, in February or in April, on Friday.

At the weekend, Chovanec said he proposed that the new leader should be elected by all members.

Perhaps non-party members should be also addressed for the candidacy to the post of party leader, he added.

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