Sunday, 21 January 2018

Okamura wants to deprive Senate of all its money

ČTK |
20 December 2017

Prague, Dec 19 (CTK) - Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) leader Tomio Okamura called on the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday to start markedly cutting the budget of the Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament, so that it would eventually get no money at all, but his proposal received no support in the lower house.

Okamura presented the plan to the lower house session dealing with the final reading of the 2018 state budget bill as his proposal for saving money from the state budget.

"I would like to starve the Senate, in other words to keep lowering its budget on which only the Chamber votes until it is null. The senators would have to do their activities for free or end it," Okamura said.

The SPD calls for the abolition of the Senate.

It is the Chamber alone that decides on the state budget, including the finances for the Senate and other state bodies.

This way of removing the Senate was first proposed by President Milos Zeman. "The post of a senator would be an honorary office because no salary would go with it. The Senate would not be the most expensive tourist agency in the Czech Republic and it would turn out that nobody needs the Senate," Zeman said in 2014.

The representatives of the government and parliament dismissed Zeman's view then.

A constitutional amendment would have to be passed to abolish the Senate, but this bill would also have to be passed by a majority of the senators, which is unlikely to happen. Due to this, opponents of the existence of the second house of parliament sought different ways. Former President Vaclav Klaus had a reserved stance on the Senate as well.

The parties in parliament mostly did not react to Okamura's proposal, while the representatives of the Civic Democrats (ODS) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) condemned it.

KDU-CSL MP Marek Vyborny said Okamura made "an unprecedented attack" on the upper house and the constitutional order.

"In the current political situation it turns out how the Senate is going to be important as a safeguard of democracy," Vyborny said. Okamura's statement is a return to deep history, he added, referring to the communist regime.

KDU-CSL deputy head Marian Jurecka said Okamura praised the Senate a few years ago when he was running for senator. Jurecka said the way in which Okamura completely changed his mind is an example of his populism.

The SPD movement calls for a national referendum on leaving the European Union, a ban on Islam in the country, strict attitude to immigration and turning public media into state-controlled media.

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