Fiala to officially become Czech Prime Minister on Nov. 26

This week in Czech politics, Nov. 15–19: Everything you need to know about Czech politics, updated weekly.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 15.11.2021 12:12:00 (updated on 18.11.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

November 18

Transfer of power Fiala to become Czech Prime Minister on November 26

After meeting with Czech President Miloš Zeman in hospital on Wednesday and confirming the composition of his proposed coalition government, Petr Fiala (ODS) is poised to take over from Andrej Babiš as Czech Prime Minister on Nov. 26, putting an end to weeks of uncertainty about the transfer of power in the Czech Republic.

Fiala is expected to be appointed Prime Minister by Zeman at his Lány presidential residence after the President is discharged from hospital; the exact date of Zeman's discharging is not yet known, though. In the ten days following Fiala's appointment as PM, Zeman should meet with and approve all his proposed ministerial candidates. Fiala says he expects the new Czech government to be fully in place within three weeks.

It is thought Zeman's only reservation about the incoming administration is the proposed appointment of Jan Lipavský from the Czech Pirate Party as Foreign Minister. Lipavský has been a vocal critic of Russia and China in the past, an attitude which runs contrary to Zeman's pro-Eastern tendencies.

November 15

Migrant Crisis Czech Republic looks with concern to Polish border

Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek has met with Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau to discuss the escalating migrant crisis on the border between Poland and Belarus. Kulhánek told his Polish counterpart that the Czech Republic supports Poland in the crisis, which is being widely blamed on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Thousands of migrants, mostly from war-torn countries in the Middle East, are currently trapped at the Polish-Belarusian border in near-freezing temperatures. Lukashenko is accused of encouraging perceptions of Belarus as an easy gateway into the Schengen Zone for third-country nationals, in an attempt to destabilize the EU’s eastern borders.

“We discussed the dire situation on the Poland-Belarus border. I expressed our solidarity with Poland and reiterated our readiness to help bilaterally if needs be,” said Kulhánek.

Earlier, members of the incoming Czech government from the Civic Democrat (ODS) party called on the Czech government to send police officers to assist Polish troops and border guards in dealing with the border crisis. The Civic Democrats said the Polish authorities face “an artificially created migration wave organized by Belarusian security forces with the quiet assistance of Russia.”

Transfer of Power Babiš to meet Zeman in hospital today

Outgoing Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš will visit President Miloš Zeman in Prague’s Central Military Hospital today. The visit will be Babiš’s first to the President since Zeman’s hospitalization a day after Babiš was defeated in the Czech elections.

“I have received permission from the hospital. I’m looking forward to the visit because I haven’t seen him since Oct. 10. We have only spoken together over the phone,” Babiš said.

Last week, Babiš formally set in motion the transfer of power in the Czech Republic by sending a letter to Zeman offering the resignation of the current government. Zeman accepted the resignation on the same day. After the election, many predicted that Zeman would try to help his long-time ally Babiš remain in power; but Babiš claimed to have no desire to prevent the transition to the new regime led by the SPOLU coalition.

Zeman President to be moved to standard hospital bed

President Miloš Zeman is due to be transferred from a bed for acute patients to a standard hospital bed today, allowing the possibility of receiving limited numbers of visitors. The opportunity to visit the President is expected to be taken up by outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Monday, and Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová on Tuesday. Next week, Zeman also plans to meet Petr Fiala, the leader of the SPOLU coalition entrusted with forming a new government to replace Babiš’s ANO-led administration.

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