Politico: Corruption scandal shatters Czech govt. before presidency

Triggered by the transport company corruption scandal, the turmoil in the Czech government comes on the eve of the Czech EU presidency.


Written by ČTK Published on 20.06.2022 14:10:00 (updated on 20.06.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Brussels, June 20 (ČTK) - The corruption scandal, in which junior ruling Mayors and Independents (STAN) Prague politician Petr Hlubuček is accused, threatens the stability of the Czech government coalition before the EU presidency, the Brussels-based server Politico writes today.

The Czech Republic will assume the presidency of the European Union (EU) Council on July 1, replacing France.

Hlubuček is among a dozen people accused in the corruption case at the Prague Public Transport Company (DPP). Last week, he resigned as a Prague deputy mayor and councilor and also left the posts at the DPP and Prague Services supervisory boards. Besides, he stepped down from all posts in the STAN movement, and STAN also suspended his membership.

Education Minister and STAN member Petr Gazdík announced his resignation on Sunday both from the government as of June 30 and as a STAN deputy chairman over his contacts with dubious businessman and lobbyist Michal Redl, who reportedly headed the criminal group at the DPP and cooperated with the fugitive criminal Radovan Krejčíř in the past.

Today, MEP Stanislav Polčak suspended his membership in STAN over his previous contacts with Redl.

Gazdík said he did not feel guilty but would not like to harm the government. “I do not want to shake the government or the coalition on the threshold of the EU presidency,” Politico cited Gazdik.

The development is "shaking the coalition government, which was formed in November after promising to restore trust in mainstream politics among a deeply cynical electorate." Politico writes. The cabinet also promised "to root out corruption and restore liberal democracy," it says.

In reaction to the corruption scandal and Gazdík's departure from the STAN leadership, the movement will hold its extraordinary election congress earlier, in the middle of the summer holidays.

A possible collapse of STAN would threaten the position of Prime Minister Petr Fiala (Civic Democrats, ODS), whose five-party coalition government has 108 seats in the 200-seat lower house of Czech parliament, while 37 seats belong to the Pirates/STAN tandem. The loss of the majority in parliament might open the path for former PM Andrej Babiš whose opposition ANO has 72 seats.

Politico also recalls the political turbulence in the Czech Republic during its previous EU presidency in 2009, which "was undermined when the government of PM Mirek Topolánek (ODS) lost a vote of confidence," the server writes.

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