Social Democrats divided over whether to leave government

The Social Democratic party is divided over how to proceed in the drawn-out dispute over a change- of-guard at the Culture Ministry, with mounting calls for the party to walk out of the government if the coalition agreement is not fully respected. The party leadership is to meet on Monday to decide how to proceed in the matter.

The Social Democrats‘ decision to effect a change at the post of culture minister has been thwarted by President Miloš Zeman, who first refused to accept the incumbent minister’s resignation and then ignored a request by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš for his dismissal and replacement by the party’s chosen successor.

At a meeting on Friday between President Zeman, Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček and Culture Minister Antonín Staněk, the president said he would accept the culture minister’s resignation on July 31st and would await the result of the Social Democrat leadership meeting on Monday as regards his successor. The party has already nominated Michael Šmarda for the post, a choice that the president does not approve of.

In line with the coalition agreement between ANO and the Social Democrats each party is fully entitled to decide who will be in charge of their given portfolios.