“It’s going to be challenging”: Five parties sign new coalition deal

Five parties that together secured a majority in elections last month took a step closer to forming the next Czech government by inking a coalition agreement on Monday morning. But how will so many parties get along in practice? And what can we expect from Petr Fiala as PM? I discussed those questions with political scientist Petr Just.

“It’s going to be challenging for the upcoming government, because their critics predict that their government will be unstable, will be very fragile; the more political parties, the more clashes you will have.

“So it will be a challenge for the forming coalition to prove their critics wrong.

“It will be their responsibility, and on the other hand their motivation, to show that they can function, despite being a multi-member government, in quite a stable way.”

What do you think are the particular issues on which tensions could arise that may cause fault-lines in this coalition?

“These issues are usually left out of any coalition agreements. Naturally, because they would lead to tensions.

Petr Fiala | Photo: Michaela Danelová,  Czech Radio

“I refer in particular to issues related to values-based legislation.

“This means any legislation related to, let’s say, same-sex marriage, regulations on abortion and similar values issues.

“These will probably be left outside of the coalition agreement, outside of the political, governmental programme.

“They will probably be left up to each MP and his or her decision as to whether they will support it, once this legislation is initiated by some other parliamentarians.”

What about Petr Fiala? What should we expect from him? He’s likely to be less abrasive than Andrej Babiš, but does he have what it takes to be a good leader?

“Many people underestimated Petr Fiala even during the pre-election campaign.

“It’s true that in the initial stage of the campaign he did not act much in a way that we expect a strong, vocal, charismatic leader.

“But at the end of the campaign – and I’m not sure whether it was his own personal development, or whether it was on the advice of his PR strategists or advisors – but he changed and proved to be a person who can have strong, charismatic statements.

“The speeches were much more vital, so he left behind the image of an academic and turned to be more a politician.”

Photo: Michal Kamaryt,  ČTK

“But very likely compared to Andrej Babiš he will more focus on finding some balance between the coalition partners and coalition leaders.”

Zbyněk Stanjura of the Civic Democrats says that the new government won’t back down if President Zeman refuses to accept any nominees for ministerial posts. What do you think would be the likely outcome if Zeman did reject some ministers?

“It’s easy to say in advance that they will not back down and that they will insist on their nominations.

“But if the situation arises, they will probably have to reconsider it once again.

“It would be unwise for this government to start its operations in a battle with the president.

“We can see that Petr Fiala so far has been able to maintain a decent relationship with Miloš Zeman, not going on his side but also not positioning himself as someone who goes against the president by any means or under any circumstances.”