Zeman to appoint Sobotka PM Jan 17th, but hints at cabinet minister veto
President Miloš Zeman has confirmed he will appoint Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka prime minister next week…but questions remain over Mr Sobotka’s choice of ministers. In a 40-minute televised news conference President Zeman listed a number of objections to the proposed new cabinet, but suggested the new government could be appointed by the end of January.
If it was indeed a mistake, then on Friday, a record 83 days after the ballot boxes were sealed, Mr Sobotka will become the 11th prime minister since the Czech Republic became independent in 1993, succeeding the technocrat leader Jiří Rusnok. The Social Democrat leader had, said Mr Zeman, fulfilled the sole criteria laid before him – presenting him with signed proof that his new coalition government will command a convincing majority in parliament.
For a few days, maybe weeks (maybe longer) after Mr Sobotka’s appointment, the country will find itself in the curious constitutional no-man’s land of simultaneously having two prime ministers – Bohuslav Sobotka, the prime minister designate without an appointed cabinet, and Jiří Rusnok, the interim prime minister who does have a cabinet, albeit one that’s governing in an acting capacity since resigning in August.
As to who will replace them, here Mr Zeman left room for varying interpretations. At four o’clock on Friday Mr Sobotka was due to visit Prague Castle with the original signed coalition agreement and the official list of ministers. Mr Zeman, without naming names, told reporters he had objections to a number of them. Those objections ranged from one minister’s missing security clearance, another’s studies at the now discredited law faculty of Plzen university, and another’s absolute lack of expertise in his given ministry.