Daily news summary

President tasks ANO leader with forming new government

President Miloš Zeman has tasked the leader of the ANO Party Andrej Babiš with forming a new government. At a joint press briefing following their meeting at Lany Chateau on Tuesday, the president said he supported Babis’ plan to form a minority government and would appeal to lower house deputies to give it a vote of confidence.

The president said he was strictly opposed to early elections and would give Babiš a second attempt at forming a cabinet if his minority government fails in a confidence vote in the lower house.

Babiš, who was rebuffed by the traditional parties during coalition negotiations, has said he will form a minority government made up of ANO ministers and unaffiliated experts and will ask the lower house for a vote of confidence in his cabinet before Christmas. There is concern that with support from the president he could govern the country for some time even if he failed to win a confidence vote.

TOP 09 leader calls for boycott of Babiš’ plans for minority government

TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek has called for the traditional parties to boycott Babiš’ plans for a minority government by blocking the establishment of a functioning lower house.

Kalousek said the only way to prevent the ANO leader from governing the country without a confidence vote was not to elect a chairman of the lower house. Without a functioning lower house the outgoing government of Bohuslav Sobotka cannot resign, and with Sobotka in office the president cannot name a new prime minister, Kalousek argued.

He said he would try to win support for the plan among all parties with the exception of the Communists, who have already said they would consider supporting a minority government led by Babiš.

Mayors and Independents drumming up support for presidential candidate Drahoš

The Mayors and Independents party (STAN) has appealed to parties with a similar goals and viewpoints to support the former chair of the Czech Academy of Sciences Jiří Drahoš in the race for president. The leader of the party’s deputies’group in the lower house Jan Farský said he believed Drahoš was one of the few candidates who could seriously challenge the incumbent president, Miloš Zeman for the post.

There are now 12 candidates in the race. In order to join the race each candidate must collect a certain number of signatures in support of his or her candidacy – either from 50,000 citizens, ten senators or twenty deputies.

Lego company wins court dispute with Czech Pirates Party

The Constitutional Court has definitively ruled in favour of the Lego toy company in its dispute with the Czech Pirates Party over the use of Lego figures in their 2012 election campaign spot.

The Pirates were ordered to apologize to the company by the Prague Municipal Court which ruled that they had violated Lego’s ownership rights. The Constitutional Court upheld the ruling on Tuesday, saying that the clip could have created the false impression that Lego supported the party.

The Pirates Party which challenged two previous verdicts by lower instance courts on the grounds that they violated their freedom of expression said they would respect the ruling.

Visapoint registration system terminated

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided as of Tuesday to terminate the electronic registration system for foreigners known as Visapoint. Established in 2009 and strongly criticized by Czech employers as well as human rights organizations, the system required citizens of some countries to register in order to subsequently apply for a permit to remain in the Czech Republic for more than 90 days.

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that visa applicants could submit their applications from November 24 to Czech embassies and consulates, in person, by e-mail or by phone.

Sunday’s storm claims fourth victim

A fourth person is reported dead as a result of the severe storm that hit the Czech Republic on Sunday. The latest victim was an eighty-year-old man who had gone mushroom hunting in the forest. Three other people were killed in different parts of the country by falling trees.

Meanwhile, thousands of people were still without power on Tuesday as maintenance crews struggled to fix damaged power lines. Persistent rain in some areas have made it difficult to use heavy technology.

The Karlovy Vary region has placed a number of forests and wooded areas off limits to the public for fear of more accidents. Clean-up work continues around the country and the damages are expected to reach billions of crowns.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should be partly cloudy to overcast around the country with day temperatures between 6 and 10 degrees Celsius.