Talks to form Czech Republic government continue as president remains in hospital

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Negotiations on the formation of a new Czech coalition government continued on Monday, despite being thrown into uncertainty after President Milos Zeman was moved to intensive care.

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There is now a debate about the constitutional requirement of the role of the President in the post-election negotiations. After the Spolu coalition won elections over the weekend, opposition lawmakers are urging consensus on a new government without Zaman’s input.

The centre-right Spol (Together) coalition received 27.8 percent of the vote, with incumbent Prime Minister Lady Babis’ party, the ANO, 27.1 percent.


Meanwhile, the Czech Pirate Party and Stan parties, another anti-Babyss coalition, won 15.5 percent of the vote. Together, the two coalitions can achieve a small majority in the country’s parliament.

But with the ANO remaining the single largest party – Zaman had promised to give the leader of the largest single party a first post-election chance to form a government – ​​there was some doubt as to who would get the chance to form a new administration.

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When the president was taken to intensive care on Sunday afternoon, the nation entered a state of suspended animation.

Yet constitutional lawyers argue that a new government can in principle be agreed upon without the involvement of the president.

They say that if Zaman is unable to participate in the talks, the current government could remain in power for up to 30 days after the election. Then a new Parliament will be convened and a new Speaker of the House will be elected.

If the President is still incapacitated at that time, the responsibility of appointing a new Prime Minister may fall on the Speaker of the House.

Zeman was expected to play a major role in the formation of a new government after Spol’s victory. But soon after meeting the current prime minister, Lady Babi, on Sunday morning, an ambulance took her to a hospital in Prague.

Footage showed the 77-year-old in a helpless state as he entered intensive care over complications related to pre-existing health problems.

Doctors said on Monday that Zaman’s condition is stable. But uncertainty over when he will be able to perform his presidency has put a new color on post-election talks.

A limited role for Zeman could deal a final blow to Babi’s hopes of staying in power.

The controversial billionaire leader stopped conceding defeat on Saturday, as a quirk in the Czech proportional representation system left the ANO with one more seat in the new parliament than Spol, despite garnering fewer votes.

And before the results were known, former presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg predicted that Zeman would do his best to keep Babi as leader.

“He will certainly hand over Mr Babi (with forming the government), and try to drag the position until the end of his presidency (in 2023),” Schwarzenberg predicted.

Yet unable to secure a majority in parliament even with the support of the far-right SPD, Babi’s options are limited.

The ANO leader said that conversations with individual Spol members would be traced in the hope that some might break ranks. But Spoloo’s announcement of his intention to form a government with the Pirates + Stan coalition – which includes a pledge that no individual party will negotiate with Babi – gives opposition lawmakers little reason to betray their cause.

“The Prime Minister should be the person who can give majority in the Parliament. It must be someone from the alliance. Any other result would be against the will of the electorate,” Benjamin Roll, president of the Million Moments for Democracy anti-babic campaign organization, told Granthshala.


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