Czech government survives no-confidence vote
The government of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has, as expected, survived a no-confidence vote in parliament. Ninety-two MPs voted for the measure, 90 voted against it, and 18 abstained. To pass, 101 votes were required.
Mr Babiš’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats, skipped the vote to allow the government to survive. But they want Mr Babiš to resign. He is refusing to do so, telling lawmakers in an emotional speech before the vote:
“I have no reason to resign... You either have to dismiss me or try to defeat me in free, democratic elections. You cannot get rid of me in any other way than through the one based on the will of the citizens.”
Mr Babiš called the whole thing a “pseudo-affair” and again accused journalists of exploiting his son’s psychological condition to obtain what he called “a false and unethical report.”
Earlier in the week, Social Democratic party leader Jan Hamáček said it would be best if the prime minister stepped down.
“The prime minister’s personal problems are burdening the government and we lobbied hard for a change of prime minister, but the ANO party is categorically against that. So by abstaining from the vote we are acknowledging the problem, but our priority is to continue in this government and to implement our policy programme”, Hamáček said.
Mr Babiš’s ANO party remains the most popular. A survey published on Friday by the pollster CVVM show ANO would win elections now with about 30 percent of the vote. However, that poll was conducted before the current crisis peaked and so does not fully reflect its potential impact on party preferences, CVVM said.
A separate poll by the Median agency taken last week showed that most Czechs (57 percent) believe Babiš tried to keep his children from testifying in the corruption case against him over EU subsidies to the Stork’s Next complex.
Mr Babiš says his son, who now lives in Switzerland, is mentally ill and that the allegations are nonsense. The prime minister also says his daughter is bipolar and so her testimony would be unreliable.