Czech morning news in brief: Top headlines for October 11, 2021

Babiš will not leave politics if not in government, uncertainty reigns regarding post-election talks, new coalition to improve Czech standing in the EU. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 11.10.2021 09:54:00 (updated on 11.10.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Babiš reverses pledge to leave parliament if not in government

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has said that he will continue to work in the Chamber of Deputies even if ANO is not in the next government. The announcement was a reversal of Babiš’s previous statement that he would leave politics if ANO ended up in opposition after the election. Babiš said that he would continue to lead ANO and hold a coalition government, led by Civic Democrat (ODS) leader Petr Fiala, to account.

The election held on Friday and Saturday saw ANO finish second, just behind the SPOLU coalition comprising the ODS, the Christian Democrats and TOP 09. On Saturday evening SPOLU and the Pirates+STAN coalition signed a memorandum of intent to form a new majority government with 108 seats in parliament.

Zeman’s health is not complicating post-election talks, insists spokesperson

The current hospitalization of Czech President Miloš Zeman is not complicating the post-election negotiation process and does not pose a constitutional problem, Zeman’s spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček said. Ovčáček said Zeman needs rest for treatment, the length of which will be decided by doctors. Zeman’s spokesperson called on the media to be patient when waiting for information about the President’s condition.

Complications in Zeman’s chronic illnesses are behind his hospitalization, according ÚVN hospital director Miroslav Zavoral. Zeman is now in intensive care. Ovčáček said Zeman is being provided with updates on the political situation and media reportage, and that his hospitalization will not pose an obstacle to talks about the formation of a new government based on SPOLU’s narrow election victory.

SPOLU victory may improve Czech Republic’s standing in the EU

The Czech Republic’s standing in the EU would improve if an expected new government is formed by the SPOLU and Pirates+STAN coalitions after ANO’s narrow defeat in the general election. Power for more pro-EU coalitions might also change the complexion of the Visegrád Four group as a counterweight to EU cooperation.

Allegations conflicts of interest involving Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš have made the Czech Republic controversial in Brussels, with the leader repeatedly criticized by the European Parliament and confirmed to have a conflict of interest by an EU audit. Babiš has adopted more eurosceptic rhetoric of late, and a new government formed of opposition coalitions would be a relief for European institutions, according to analysts.

Graffiti gang attack Prague metro and fight with passengers

An organized attack on the Prague metro took place at the weekend on the yellow line B. A gang began spraying paint on train carriages, leading to a fight with passengers. The gang stopped a train from leaving the Rajská zahrada station, before spraying symbols along the entire length of the train.

The gang didn’t count on the anger of passengers on the train at being held up, though. Several people left the train to start fighting with the gang. After struggling for less than a minute, the gang escaped from the station. The gang dispersed after the incident and the suspects have not yet been found despite police efforts, a spokesperson for Prague Police said on Saturday evening. The police are asking people who witnessed the event to come forward to assist in the investigation.

Most women elected in the history of the Czech Republic

A quarter of the MPs elected to the new Czech parliament will be women. The weekend saw twenty women from the ANO movement, thirteen from the Pirates+STAN coalition, twelve from the SPOLU coalition and five from the SPD. According to Zakroužkuj ženu (Circle a Woman) initiative encouraging the election of female candidates, the record number of women was brought about by a higher number of preferential votes than in previous elections.

The number of women running for office was the highest in the Czech Republic’s history. Yet analysts note that notwithstanding the improvement, the number of women in Czech politics still lags behind other countries: in Scandinavia, around half of all MPs are women. Gender equality campaigners say a 50:50 split in gender representation would be ideal so that women’s perspectives are adequately represented in parliament.

Forum 2000 starts in Prague

The annual Forum 2000 conference has started in Prague, discussing matters of democracy and the upholding of civil rights. The conference is organized by the Forum 2000 Foundation, which builds on the legacy of former Czech President Václav Havel by providing a platform for global leaders, thinkers and fighters for civil rights to discuss and debate important issues.

This year's forum will include fourteen events spread over six days, including lectures, discussions, artistic performances and film screenings. All the events are free and open to the public.

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