Embattled Czech Cabinet of Billionaire Prime Minister Babiš Survives No-Confidence Vote
The technically minority ruling coalition in the Czech Republic has been relying on the support of the Communist MPs.
The Czech Republic’s minority coalition Cabinet led by controversial Prime Minister, billionaire Andrej Babiš, has managed to muddle through a vote of no-confidence.
The no-confidence motion by the opposition came against the backdrop of Sunday’s anti-government protests in Prague demanding Babiš’s resignation, which rallied some 250,000 people, the largest crowd in the country since the Velvet Revolution at the end of communism in 1989.
Babiš’s stepping down has been demanded by protests since April when the Czech police recommended that the Prime Minister be indicted over a case involving fraud with EU funds.
Babis’ ANO 2011 party is in a coalition with the center-left Social Democrats. However, it relies on the Communist MPs, who are not a formal coalition partner, to reach a major of 108 seats in Parliament.
The no-confidence motion was rejected by the 200-seat Czech Parliament on Thursday after 17 hours of debates, Radio Prague reported.
The opposition failed to muster the 101 votes to topple Babiš, with 85 voting against, 85 in favor, while 30 MPs abstained or did not cast a vote.
Thursday’s was the second time the current Babiš Cabinet survived a no-confidence vote in its one year in office so far.
Opposition parties had tabled the no-confidence motion after a preliminary European Commission audit found Babiš to be in conflict of interest in connection his business affairs.
The EC report found Babis still has influence over Agrofert, a sprawling agriculture, food and media empire, even though he technically put the business into a trust after he became Prime Minister in 2017.
However, prior to that, he had served as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of the Czech Republic since 2014.
Agrofert might have to repay up to EUR 17.4 million (app. USD 20 million) in EU subsidies when the final EC audit comes out later this year.
The billionaire Prime Minister denies any wrongdoing, and attributes the accusations to a political campaign.
Despite the huge protests demanding his resignation, Babiš’s party ANO 2011 is still estimated to remain the most popular in the Czech Republic with about 30% public support.
(Banner image: Andrej Babiš on Twitter)