Christian Democrats headed for the opposition

Pavel Bělobrádek, photo: CTK

ANO, the winners of the elections at the weekend, have been meeting with the leaders of parties which made it into the lower house, with the aim of forming a new government coalition. But as was readily apparent, the negotiations have not been easy. Some of the smaller parties have already made clear they will head for the opposition benches while changes in party leadership are also likely.

Pavel Bělobrádek,  photo: CTK
ANO won the elections at the weekend but the make-up of the next lower house made it clear from the start that negotiations on forming a new government would be fairly tricky.

Many of the other parties in the chamber of deputies have outlined they will not enter into a government where the future prime minister, Andrej Babiš, and his deputy party leader are charged with subsidy fraud of some 50 million crowns in EU funds.

The two parties in government alongside ANO until now, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, have both signalled they will go into the opposition; the Christian Democrat leadership on Tuesday recommended that be the case.

Christian Democrat chairman Pavel Bělobrádek said this:

“We have the impression there is no party constellation forming which would be good for the Czech Republic or for the Christian Democrats to be a part of.

“We shall definitely be a constructive opposition party. We won’t be ones to say the government is doing everything wrong - if it isn’t true.”

Deputy party leader Ondřej Benešík stressed that voters had sent a clear signal they wanted to see the Christian Democrats in the opposition.

Miroslav Kalousek,  photo: CTK
Meanwhile, Mr Bělobrádek’s own future as party leader is uncertain and to be decided on Friday when he will offer up the post in keeping with a campaign promise to do better in this election than the last (the Christian Democrats lost four seats), and offer to step down. It will be up to 90 delegates to decide whether he should leave or stay on.

“The party leader of course has to accept responsibility for election results, so I will keep my promise and offer up the post.”

On Tuesday, meanwhile the head of another likely opposition party TOP 09 Miroslav Kalousek, an outspoken critic of ANO’s leader Andrej Babiš, confirmed he would not seek re-election at his party’s leadership convention next month. TOP 09 were badly mauled in the election, slipping to a little over five percent, a little over the minimum required to make it into the lower house.