Czech government will survive vote of no confidence
By Robert Muller
PRAGUE – The Czech government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis was due to survive a vote of no confidence on Thursday after a party with decisive votes said it would not support the attempt to topple the minority cabinet.
The success of the motion, driven by two opposition coalitions on the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and investigations into the billionaire prime minister’s alleged conflicts of interest, would transfer power to pro-Russian President Milos Zeman for a few months before general elections scheduled for October.
But the opposition was sure to run out of votes after the Czech Communist Party decided not to participate in the vote. The party has supported Babis throughout his tenure, but has challenged his cabinet’s firm stance in a spy dispute with Russia.
“The government does not have our confidence, but the right-wing (opposition) parties even less,” Communist Party chairman Vojtech Filip said during the debate in parliament.
“Therefore, we will not participate in this unnecessary spectacle and we are going to work for the people,” Filip said.
President Zeman has said on several occasions that he will keep the cabinet in place on an interim basis until the general election in October.
However, given his right to appoint a new prime minister at any time, he would have greater influence over cabinet actions, political analysts have said.
Babis told parliament the opposition had taken the Czechs hostage and used the pandemic for political games. He has also attacked his main rival, the Liberal Pirate Party, which he accuses of prompting EU bodies to take a close look at a business empire which he has turned into a trust fund.
“We don’t want the European Parliament to control our country. No one from abroad will stick their nose here, ”Babis said. “We don’t want a multicultural, eco-fanatic Pirate-Stan.”
A coalition of the Pirate Party and the Party of Mayors has dominated opinion polls in recent months, ahead of Babis ANO party and a center-right coalition SPOLO (Together) in third place. The polls give both groups a chance to win enough seats to form a narrow majority and replace Babis’ cabinet.