Czech Republic’s Coalition Talks Hit a Communist Obstacle
Attempts by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his ANO party to form a coalition government in the Czech Republic could be undone by a row over the appointment of a new foreign minister.
The Czech Communist Party, which would hold the balance of power in any coalition deal, has threatened to withdraw its support if the Social Democrats (CSSD), led by Jan Hamacek, persist with their nomination of Miroslav Poche, a European Parliament member, for the role.
His proposed appointment has drawn sharp criticism from the Communists and the Czech President Milos Zeman amid claims that Poche voted in favor of imposing fines on EU members who fail to accept their full quota of migrants, in direct opposition to official Czech policy. Poche insists he voted against but the row will not go away.
Communist leader Vojtech Filip has now said he will pull his party out of any deal if Poche becomes Foreign Minister. As things stand, the coalition being put together by the ANO and the CSSD would have no Parliamentary majority and would rely on Filip’s pro-Russian Communists to command a majority in any vote of confidence.
It is the latest blow to Babiš, who secured almost 30 per cent of the vote in October last year but has been unable to find a power-sharing partner since. He is facing a police investigation into allegations that he misused a €2 million EU subsidy ten years ago, although he strongly denies any wrongdoing.
In a discussion on state television last week (June 17) Filip pledged that his party would refuse to support the government if Poche became foreign minister.
A majority of CSSD members voted to back the coalition with the ANO and break a deadlock that has dragged on for almost nine months.
Babiš met President Zeman, who appoints ministers, to brief him on ministerial nominations and said afterwards that the president would be meeting with all the nominees, including Poche.
He said he was confident that the problem with the Communists would be overcome.
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