Prime Minister says there is no reason for coalition to collapse
The ongoing government crisis over the proposed reorganisation of the police has shown no signs of abating and the future of the cabinet now hangs in the balance. The head of ANO, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, has warned that if the controversial changes to the force get the go-ahead, the party will leave the government. The Social Democrats, led by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, countered that there was no reason for the cabinet to collapse.
By contrast, the prime minister slammed ANO for, in his view, trying putting to pressure the interior minister and police president, saying the planned changes were fully within their competencies. More and more, it appears to be a situation of a stand-off in which it is uncertain who will blink first and even Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek admitted after a meeting of the three coalition leaders on Wednesday morning that the situation was serious:
The planned changes have been questioned by many, not least the head of the organised crime unit itself, Robert Šlachta, who resigned in protest, but has since said he might return. Others taking exception to the proposal, at least as outlined so far, are chief state prosecutors, the supreme state prosecutor and the justice minister, who himself threatened to resign. The right-wing opposition, which has no love for Mr Babiš, meanwhile charged that the leader had deliberately escalated the crisis ahead of elections next year. The leader of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats Petr Fiala said this:
“ANO are acting absolutely irresponsibly and the end result will cast doubts on the work of the police, which is something we cannot allow.”
“At this moment I think that anything can happen. Everything we’ve heard over the last few days suggests high emotions… [the minister could sign or ANO could leave…] it is a question, in my opinion, of how much some of them have painted themselves into a corner.”