Daily news summary


Czech branch of Transparency suing PM

The Czech branch of the International watchdog Transparency International has decided to sue Prime Minister Andrej Babiš over statements which it says are damaging the organization’s reputation.

In a statement released on Friday, TI Czech Republic said it had filed a slander complaint at the regional court in Prague and would be represented by lawyer Pavel Uhl.

The head of the Czech branch of TI David Ondračka said that on several public occasions the prime minister, who himself is suspected of EU subside fraud, had referred to Transparency International as a corrupt organization, with the clear intention of damaging the organization’s good name.

Social Democrats divided over whether to leave government

The Social Democratic party is divided over how to proceed in the drawn-out dispute over a change- of-guard at the Culture Ministry, with mounting calls for the party to walk out of the government if the coalition agreement is not fully respected. The party leadership is to meet on Monday to decide how to proceed in the matter.

The Social Democrats‘ decision to effect a change at the post of culture minister has been thwarted by President Miloš Zeman, who first refused to accept the incumbent minister’s resignation and then ignored a request by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš for his dismissal and replacement by the party’s chosen successor.

At a meeting on Friday between President Zeman, Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček and Culture Minister Antonín Staněk, the president said he would accept the culture minister’s resignation on July 31st and would await the result of the Social Democrat leadership meeting on Monday as regards his successor. The party has already nominated Michael Šmarda for the post, a choice that the president does not approve of.

In line with the coalition agreement between ANO and the Social Democrats each party is fully entitled to decide who will be in charge of their given portfolios.

Opposition blames president and PM for political crisis

The opposition parties have criticized the drawn-out political conflict, calling it a theatre of the absurd and arguing that the present government is harming the country’s interests by a never–ending series of scandals that prevents it from focussing on the country’ real problems.

The head of the Pirate Party, Ivan Bartoš, says it is not the culture minister who is at the core of the problem, but Prime Minister Andrej Babiš who is suspected of EU subsidy fraud and unwilling to stand up to the president.

Miroslav Kalousek, head of the TOP 09 deputies group in the lower house, argues that the present head of state has no respect for the Constitution and is being left to do as he will.

Communist leadership to assess tolerance agreement with governing parties

The Communist Party leadership is due to meet with representatives of the ANO party on Tuesday to assess to what extent the minority government of ANO and the Social Democrats is fulfilling the tolerance agreement with the Communists which has enabled it to govern.

The Communist Party has tolerated the government in return for policy concessions and support for its own stated policy priorities, such as a tax on church restitutions and increased expenditures in the social sphere.

The Communist Party has so far shown no indication that it might withdraw this support over the scandals surrounding the prime minister or the drawn-out crisis concerning the culture minister.

President sends video-greeting to Freedom and Direct Democracy Party

In a video-greeting to the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party on the occasion of its weekend party conference, President Miloš Zeman said he does not consider the party to be extremist, and finds the label “radical” more suited to its nature. Radical parties are a legitimate part of the political spectrum, Mr. Zeman noted.

The president said he shared the party’s preference for direct elections, noting that he himself had been elected in this way and supported the institution of public referenda.

He was critical however of the party’s negative stand to Czech participation in foreign missions, saying that international terrorism must be fought by actions not just words and every democratic country had a responsibility to contribute to this endeavour.

Storm damages estimated at close to one billion crowns

Severe rain and hail storms in the past two weeks are reported to have caused damages to the tune of one billion crowns, according to data from Czech insurance companies. The most damages are reported from the Olomouc region but people all around the country have been filing insurance claims over damaged roofs, cars and gardens.

Insurance companies say they have managed to settle around a third of the claims so far. Farmers also report severe damage to the fruit harvest.

Weather forecast

Sunday should be overcast and rainy around the country with day temperatures ranging from 19 to 23 degrees Celsius.