Czech Prime Minister Babis promises smooth handover to opposition

Czech Prime Minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babis reacts during a press conference at the party’s electoral headquarters following the country’s parliamentary elections in Prague, Czech Republic, October 9, 2021. REUTERS / Bernadett Szabo

  • Babis renounces the possibility of forming a wardrobe
  • Two liberal center-right coalitions pledge to form government
  • A new cabinet could arrive after the parliamentary session of November 8

PRAGUE, Oct. 15 (Reuters) – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Friday promised a smooth handover of power to a bloc of opposition parties that won last weekend’s elections, giving up the possibility of forming himself- even a government.

Two opposition coalitions, the Center-Right Ensemble and the Liberal Pirates / Mayors, together won 108 seats in the lower house of Parliament, which has 200 seats, and said they wanted to form a government together.

Babis, leader of the centrist ANO party, had acknowledged the victory of the opposition but hinted that he could still have the first stab at forming a new cabinet at the head of the largest single party in parliament.

But on Friday, he abandoned that option.

“We will go into the opposition” without first trying to form a cabinet, he said.

“We are not clinging to positions, we will not block anything. It is in my interest that our country prosper as it did under our government,” he said on Twitter.

President Milos Zeman, an ally of Babis, said ahead of the election that he would appoint the leader of the largest party to make the first attempt to form a new government.

However, Zeman, 77, has not commented on it since the election, as he was admitted to an intensive care unit at a Prague hospital on Sunday with an undisclosed illness.

Given the lack of potential coalition partners, any cabinet led by Babis would almost certainly not win the necessary vote of confidence in the lower house, although the attempt may have extended its tenure in power for months.

Babis’ departure after four years will resolve conflicts of interest he was accused of as the founder of an agricultural, food, chemical and media empire, Agrofert, which he invested in trust funds before becoming prime minister. He denied any wrongdoing.

The European Commission has suspended development grant payments to Agrofert, as well as other payments, while demanding improved controls on conflicts of interest.

The new government might also be less inclined to a close relationship with Hungarian Viktor Orban, an ally of Babis.

The new coalition, led by center-right political science professor Petr Fiala, has pledged to reduce the proposed budget deficit for next year, but the five parties have not revealed any concrete plans on how to do so. achieve it.

A new cabinet can only be appointed after a parliamentary session scheduled to begin on November 8.

Zeman’s health uncertainty may cause delay. If the president is incapacitated, both houses of parliament can remove him from office, and the task of appointing the new prime minister would fall to the president of the new lower house, who will be chosen by the new majority.

Reporting by Jan Lopatka, additional reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Gareth Jones and Giles Elgood

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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