Czech Republic’s new government officially sworn in, hits the ground running

The Czech Republic’s new government was officially sworn in by President Miloš Zeman at Lány Chateau on Friday. Headed by Petr Fiala, the cabinet is made up of 17 ministers from the ruling Together and Pirates and Mayors coalition. It replaces the ANO-Social Democrat government of Andrej Babiš, which led the country for the past four years.

After two weeks of being individually interviewed by President Miloš Zeman and a short constitutional clash between the prime minister and head of state, the ministers that Petr Fiala chose to nominate into his cabinet have officially been sworn into office and the Czech Republic has a new government.

Speaking after the official ceremony, Petr Fiala said that his government is assuming power in a difficult time for the country.

Petr Fiala | Photo: Ondřej Deml,  ČTK

“Many things in our country are in a state of neglect. Our country, our citizens are facing huge problems, whether they are the coronavirus epidemic, rising energy prices, inflation and all that comes with it. We want to approach these problems systematically and thoughtfully…We know it won’t be easy, but I am certain that we will manage.”

The Lány ceremony came after a several-week-long stand-off between Mr Fiala and President Miloš Zeman, who refused to name Pirate Party nominee Jan Lipavský foreign minister. However, the president, who has a reputation for being a tough political opponent, eventually caved in earlier this week and agreed to name all of Mr Fiala’s nominees for the cabinet.

Jan Lipavský,  Miloš Zeman | Photo: Vít Šimánek,  ČTK

Also speaking after the ceremony, the president wished the new ministers that they “leave something useful behind them”.

“There is an opportunity in front of you. An opportunity to deal with the coronavirus epidemic, the energy crisis, the budget [deficit] and with state expenses in general. As [your predecessor] Petr Nečas used to say, this opportunity will either make you or break you .”

Sitting in the cabinet are six ministers from the Civic Democrat Party, four from the Mayors and Independents, three Pirate Party members, two TOP 09 party members and three from the Christian Democrats, although one of the latter, Zdeněk Nekula, could not yet be named due to being infected with Covid-19. His portfolio will, for the time being, be managed by Christian Democrat leader Marian Jurečka.

Andrej Babiš | Photo: Ondřej Deml,  ČTK

Earlier on Friday, Andrej Babiš’s government held its last session. The subsequent press conference was not attended by any of the former government’s Social Democrat ministers. Mr Babiš used the press briefing mainly in order to look back on his governments past work, praising above all that it had managed to last for its entire term despite being a minority cabinet.

“I would like to thank everyone who elected us into our positions. We did our best to fulfil their expectations…Whether our government was a success will be judged by history in due time. I think the Czech Republic is prospering”

Meanwhile, Petr Fiala’s new government held its first meeting immediately after leaving Lány, announcing in a subsequent press conference that the government will not call on the Chamber of Deputies to extend the state of emergency past December 25. This means that pubs, bars and restaurants, as well as the wider service sector, will likely be able to remain open after 10pm during New Year’s Eve celebrations. Prime Minister Fiala said that the government will continue to monitor the epidemiological situation and is ready to enact changes based on its development.