President’s health in focus after election as opposition coalitions ask to form government

Miloš Zeman

Czech President Miloš Zeman is the centre of focus one day after the election into the Chamber of Deputies. He is expected to name a prime minister who will then form a government. However, the president’s health condition is bad and he was transferred to hospital on Sunday.Current Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on Saturday that Prague Castle expects post-election negotiations to begin on Wednesday. 

The opposition SPOLU coalition of the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the TOP 09 party won the election on Saturday with 27.79 percent of the vote, just a few decimal points ahead of the second placed ANO party led by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. This is important, because, while the SPOLU coalition is the winner of the elections, ANO remains the single largest party in the lower-house.

SPOLU and PirSTAN | Photo: Ondřej Deml,  ČTK

Before the elections, President Zeman said that he will name the leader of the strongest party to form a government. Which, in this case, could be interpreted to be ANO. However, overall election results show that the majority of voters cast their ballots for partes which explicitly oppose forming a government with the current prime minister and there is pressure on the head of state to commission SPOLU coalition leader Petr Fiala with forming a government.

Andrej Babiš | Photo: Michal Kamaryt,  ČTK

This expectation was further amplified on Saturday evening when leaders of the SPOLU and Pirates and Mayors coalitions agreed on a memorandum in which they pledged not to enter into negotiations with any other party and called on the president to give Petr Fiala a chance to form a government. Together the two coalitions have 108 out of the 200 seats in the Chamber of Deputies - enough to form a majority. Meanwhile, Mr Babiš said he intends to negotiate with the SPOLU coalition about the prospects of forming a government.

Politicians and the wider public are now waiting for the president to decide. Miloš Zeman was originally supposed to make a televised speech on Sunday after the election. However, this had to be canceled earlier this week, due to health reasons. The president was transferred to hospital on Sunday, shortly after meeting with ANO leader Andrej Babiš at the presidential Lány residency. Mr Babiš said earlier this week that the meeting will not be concerned  with the results of the election. Mr Babiš left Lány after the meeting without providing comment on what was discussed. However, he did say on Saturday that Prague Castle expects negotiations on the future government of the country to begin on Wednesday.

The director of the Military University Hospital in Prague,  Miroslav Zavoral | Photo: Ondřej Deml,  ČTK

The director of the Military University Hospital in Prague, Miroslav Zavoral, issued a short statement on Sunday afternoon in which he said that the president had been transferred to hospital on his doctor’s recommendation and that he is now in the care of experts. However, Dr Zavoral said that he was unable to provide details on the head of state’s diagnosis, because President Zeman does not wish this. What is known is that the president is suffering from diabetes and neuropathy of the lower limbs.