| 22 May 2024, Wednesday |

Czech president opens way to opposition gov’t, feels fit to finish term

In his first public remarks since the country’s parliamentary election on October 8-9, Czech President Milos Zeman said he expects to name opposition leader Petr Fiala as the country’s new prime minister.

On Oct. 10, Zeman was transported to the Prague Central Military Hospital’s acute care unit with an unexplained diagnosis.

said he felt good and was ready to finish his mandate, which runs until 2023, in a phone interview with Frekvence 1 radio filmed earlier on Friday from the hospital.

Zeman has the constitutional freedom to pick prime ministers of his own.

Zeman, 77, has previously stated that he will offer the first opportunity to form a government to the strongest individual party, which is outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s ANO, despite the fact that it lacks a majority and willing allies.

This, along with the president’s illness, which his physicians stated precluded him from executing his duties during his hospitalization, generated confusion about the future steps.

But Zeman, in his first public comments on the matter, said he was prepared to appoint leader of the center-right Together coalition Fiala, whom he was due to speak to from hospital on Saturday, following the first meeting of the new parliament next week and Babis’s resignation that must come after that.

“At the moment the topic is mainly appointing Petr Fiala as prime minister. Several steps must take place toward that,” Zeman said.

“I believe that there will be no problem there, you know why? Because Andrej Babis, whom I just spoke to a little while ago on the telephone, does not have interest in being prime minister, as nobody is willing to negotiate with him,” he said.

The centre-right Together and a centrist coalition of the Pirate Party and the Mayors movement together won 108 seats in the 200-seat lower house in the election.

They concluded a coalition agreement this week, pledging to cut the budget deficit to 3% of gross domestic product from over 7% this year, make small steps toward the eventual adoption of the euro, and reaffirm the country’s pro-NATO and pro-EU stance.

The new government will also have to deal with a new wave of coronavirus infections, a rapid spike in inflation including energy prices, sharp interest rate hikes and challenges for the heavily industrialised and coal-dependent country stemming from the European Union’s climate goals.

Babis confirmed on Friday he would resign as required after the conclusion of the first parliamentary session, news agency CTK reported.

  • Reuters