PM calls for Czech coalition pact to be re-examined

By bne IntelliNews May 27, 2016

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on May 27 joined the calls for the coalition pact to be re-examined, as the rift between his Social Democrats (CSSD) and junior partner Ano continues to escalate. However, unlike his partners, the PM did not hint the deal should be amended or torn up.

Sobotka made the comments as he announced that he plans to put forward a revised version of an anti-smoking bill that was defeated in parliament earlier in the week. The failure of the legislation has led to a major outbreak of hostilities between the two parties, which potentially threatens to break their marriage of convenience after two years or more of surprising stability.

Echoing suggestions from Ano leader and finance minister Andrej Babis in recent days, Sobotka called for the coalition agreement to be revisited following the failure of the junior party to support the legislation, and of its chairman to make time to discuss the problem at a consequent meeting called by the PM. However, unlike Babis, he did not suggest it is change he seeks.

“I do not think [the coalition agreeement] should be amended," Sobotka said, according to CTK. " It is good to read it from time to time and proceed in line."

Only 13 of Ano's 44 deputies present for the vote on May 25 supported the anti-smoking bill, which fell eight votes short of passing. That drew sharp criticism from Sobotka, who claimed Ano had broken the agreement. Babis - who with the benefit of a consistent lead in polls over the CSSD since the coalition was formed - retorted that perhaps the agreement should be changed. The billionaire then failed to show up at a May 27 meeting of coalition leaders called by the PM to discuss the issue.

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