Row over Communist committee chair threatens formation of new Czech government

By bne IntelliNews March 8, 2018

A row between Ano, the party of populist billionaire Andrej Babis, and the hardline Communists (KSCM) could threaten the formation of a new Czech government.

Babis, currently the acting prime minister, hopes to form either a majority government with the support of the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the toleration of the KSCM, or a minority government backed by the two parties in parliament. However, after the forced resignation of deputy Zdenek Ondracek (KSCM) from the post of head of the committee for the General Inspection of Security Forces (GIBS), the Communists say they may refuse to support Babis' attempt to form a government,

Ondracek was proposed by the Communists to lead the parliamentary committee, which oversees investigations into members of the security forces, including the police.  After several inconclusive votes, Babis' Ano party finally supported his election on March 2, which was widely seen as a bribe for the Communists to win their support for forming a government.

However, the Communists have never fully apologised for crimes committed under their 40-year rule and remain hostile to Nato and ambivalent about the EU. Ondracek himself was a member of the hated National Security Corps (SNB) police force during Communism and is well-known in Czechia for commanding a unit that beat protesters during the 1989 demonstrations that eventually brought down the regime. On March 3, Ondracek said that he was just following orders. “In my professional decisions, I regret nothing,” he added.

Ondracek's election brought around 25,000 people into the symbolic Wenceslas Square, site of the most famous pro-democracy demonstrations, and thousands of people gathered in other Czech cities to protest.

The demonstration pushed Babis to declare that he would support a vote to recall Ondracek, and the Communist deputy finally resigned on March 6, saying that he was stepping down because of threats to his family.

The chairman of KSCM, Vojtech Filip, has attacked Ano for being untrustworthy. “There is no clear decision, whether or not we will be tolerating an Ano government. Not even under the circumstances of programme concurrence. And not because of the programme, but because of the credibility of the partner,” Filip said.

 

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