Babiš wants new candidate for arts minister by Friday

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says he wants the Social Democrats to nominate a new candidate for the post of arts minister by the end of the week. The party’s previous nominee, Michal Šmarda, withdrew his name on Monday, citing disrespect from Mr. Babiš. The PM had joined President Miloš Zeman in rejecting Mr. Šmarda’s candidacy.

The leader of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, has so far refused to mention any potential names.

Mr. Šmarda himself suggested Martin Netolický and Jiří Běhounek, who are regional governors for his party, or Kateřina Kalistová, who is at present a deputy minister of culture. She was also previously referred to as a possible candidate by the prime minister.

Speaking after talks with President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday, Mr. Babiš said he would propose a new candidate as soon as one was put forward by the Social Democrats.

The post of minister of culture has been a major political issue since May, when the previous occupant of the job, Antonín Staněk, offered his resignation.

Author: Ian Willoughby