Saturday, 15 December 2018

Právo: Babiš to ask for confidence vote only if sure of success

ČTK |
5 March 2018

Prague, March 3 (CTK) - Czech ANO leader Andrej Babis, who is conducting government-forming negotiations, will ask the Chamber of Deputies to take a vote of confidence in his new cabinet only if it is sure of success, he says in daily Pravo on Saturday, adding that his second attempt to win confidence would be no random try.

Babis's ANO minority government was established in December but it lost a confidence vote in January and continues ruling pending the establishment of a new government.

Babis told Pravo he would prefer the new government being another single-party minority government of ANO, tolerated by the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Communists (KSCM).

He reacted to the CSSD's recent statement that it prefers joining a government of ANO to helping keep it afloat based on joint programme goals.

Babis said if the CSSD stood outside the government, it could better settle its internal affairs [after its crushing defeat in last October's general election]. Moreover, this alternative might be acceptable for some CSSD lawmakers who are opposed to the party's direct participation in an ANO government, Babis said, mentioning former CSSD leaders Bohuslav Sobotka and Milan Chovanec, who were the prime minister and the interior minister in the previous election period, respectively.

Babis, a billionaire, said as a former businessman he is ready to negotiate with all who show interest in it. As a result, all possible variants of ANO's governance remain open, including a majority government of ANO and the Civic Democrats (ODS), a minority coalition government with the CSSD and leaning on the KSCM, and ANO's one-colour government tolerated by the KSCM and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD).

The last mentioned variant is not preferable, but it cannot be ruled out if the CSSD failed to definitively approve its participation in the government and if all other parties continue insisting that Babis must not be a part of the cabinet, Babis said, alluding to some parties' call for the new government not to include Babis as a person prosecuted for suspected EU subsidy fraud.

"If we fail to reach agreement with anybody, it may force us to ponder seeking an early election," Babis said, emphasising that he does not wish such an outcome.

Asked whether he considers correct the personnel changes in high civil service posts as made by members of his current caretaker cabinet, he says previous caretaker cabinets, too, made similar big changes.

"We will smoothly defend the changes we make because we [ANO] are an anti-corruption movement that wants to manage the state effectively and transparently," Babis told Pravo.

ANO, the winner of the October 2017 general election, has 78 deputies in the 200-seat lower house of parliament. The CSSD and the KSCM have 15 seats each. The ODS has 25 and the SPD 22 seats.

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