On Thursday, the Czech government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis was expected to survive a no-confidence vote after a party with decisive votes declared it would not back the attempt to topple the minority cabinet.
If the motion, which was brought by two opposition coalitions over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and investigations into the billionaire prime minister’s alleged conflicts of interest, is approved, power will be transferred to Pro-Russian President Milos Zeman for a few months before a general election in October.
But the opposition was certain to lack enough votes after the Czech Communist Party decided not to participate in the vote. The party has supported Babis throughout his term but took issue over his cabinet’s tough stance in a spying row with Russia.
“The government does not have our confidence, but the rightist (opposition) parties even less so,” Communist Party Chairman Vojtech Filip said in the debate in parliament.
“Therefore we will not participate in this pointless spectacle, and we are leaving to work for the people,” Filip said.
President Zeman has repeatedly said he would keep the cabinet in place in a caretaker capacity until the October general election.
However, given his right to appoint a new prime minister at any moment, he would have greater leverage over the cabinet’s actions, political analysts said.
Babis told parliament the opposition had taken the Czechs as hostages and used the pandemic for politic games. He also attacked his main rival, the liberal Pirate Party, which he blames for instigating scrutiny he faces from EU bodies over a business empire he has shifted into trust funds.
“We don’t want the European Parliament to control our country. Nobody from abroad will stick his nose in here,” Babis said. “We don’t want multicultural, eco-fanatic Pirate-stan.”
A coalition of the Pirate Party and the Mayors Party has led in opinion polls in recent months, ahead of Babis’s ANO party, and a centre-right coalition SPOLU (Together) in third place. Polls give the two groups chances of winning enough seats to form a narrow majority and replace Babis’s cabinet.