Daily news summary
PM: the suspicions surrounding me are based on lies
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told Czech Radio that the people who called for his demise had fallen for "a thousand-times-repeated lies about his alleged role as an agent of the communist secret police, claims of EU subsidy fraud and an abduction that never happened“. The prime minister responded to Czech Radio’s question by SMS.
Andrej Babiš is expected to address the most recent suspicions that have emerged in an interview for commercial TV NOVA on Sunday evening.
Social Democrat leader says coalition should continue under different prime minister
Social Democratic Party leader Jan Hamáček has said the ideal solution to the present crisis would be for the governing coalition to continue under a different prime minister. Speaking in a debate on Czech Television, Hamáček said the Social Democrats, who are in coalition with Babiš’s ANO Party, are not happy with the prospect of a no-confidence vote in the government. “We have to consider what a vote of no-confidence would bring the country in view of the president’s intentions,” he said, pointing out that either his party would be replaced in the coalition by the populist SPD or the country would face a drawn-out constitutional crisis.
President Zeman said earlier this week that if the government should fall he would once again task Andrej Babis with forming a new government and noted that, in any case, the present government could continue to rule in demise for an unspecified period of time.
Date of European elections confirmed
Elections to the European Parliament in the Czech Republic will be held on 24th and 24th of May next year, the Interior Ministry confirmed in a statement on Sunday. The date stems from the decision of the Council of Europe that the elections in individual member states should be held in the last weekend of the month of May. The president should officially announce the date by February 23rd.
Thousands attend Concert for the Future in Prague
Several thousand people attended a Concert for the Future on Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Saturday night.
The concert lasted for more than five hours with music interspersed with speeches by activists, former politicians and personalities from the arts world. The speakers criticized the present political culture in the country and spoke about the need to protect and nurture freedom and democracy.
There were calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who faces charges of EU subsidy fraud.
The concert was preceded by a protest gathering against the prime minister on Old Town Square attended by thousands of people.
Post Bellum hands out awards for civic courage
The non-profit organization Post Bellum traditionally handed out awards for civic courage on November 17, the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution that triggered the fall of communism in the Czech Republic.
Among the recipients this year were political prisoner Jiří Světlík, Milena Blatná, who helped political prisoners forced to work in the country’s uranium mines, political prisoner Helena Kociánová who lost a leg helping an inmate and Marta Szilárdová who survived the Holocaust and saved her sister’s life during the Death March.
New papal nuncio to arrive in Prague next week
Msgr. Charles Daniel Balvo, who was appointed the new papal nuncio to the Czech Republic, is expected to arrive in Prague on November 22nd. He will be met at Prague airport by Cardinal Dominik Duka.
Msgr. Charles Daniel Balvo was ordained priest in 1976 in New York. He entered the diplomatic corps of the Holy See a year later.
He has served in the nunciatures in Ghana, Ecuador, Chile, the Czech Republic, Jordan and Lithuania. He speaks English, Italian, Spanish, French and Czech.
Monday should bring partly cloudy to overcast skies around the country with rain or snow showers in places and day temperatures between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius.