Czech President Milos Zeman appointed Petr Fiala, the leader of the winning coalition SPOLU (Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats, TOP09), as the new Czech Prime Minister in a postponed ceremony, initially planned for Friday November 26. Due to the president´s positive test for COVID-19, the ceremony was held under strict hygiene conditions behind a plexiglass wall at the president's country residence at Lany, outside Prague. The president communicated with Fiala through a microphone and speakers.
The outgoing PM Andrej Babis congratulated Fiala on his appointment, adding that “it is good news that the president will complete talks with the new ministers by December 13, so I believe that a new government will be appointed in the same week”. Babis will retain executive authority until the government is appointed.
Zeman plans to start a series of meetings with all candidates on Monday, November 29 as he had planned before he was tested COVID-19 positive. He will receive candidates in alphabetical order and would like to finish the meetings and appoint a new government by mid-December.
Fiala's appointment took place after a more than month-long stay of Zeman in Prague´s Central Military Hospital (UVN). He was admitted to the UVN on October 10, just after the general elections were held, with complications resulting from his chronic liver illness, the result of a lifetime of heavy drinking. On November 4, Zeman was transferred from an intensive care unit to a standard room. On November 25, he was released from UVN; however he was immediately readmitted after testing positive for COVID-19.
Zeman has had reservations about one of the candidates in Fiala´s cabinet, which is likely to be the Pirate candidate for the foreign minister, Jan Lipavsky, who is a thorn in the side of the pro-Russian and pro-Chinese president. After today's appointment, Fiala said that the president´s reservations remain. “I believe they can be dispelled by the talks with the candidates,” he said, adding that if this does not happen, he will deal with the situation once it comes but did not specify how.
According to Fiala, his cabinet will have to deal with the coronavirus crisis, implement pension reform and changes in education, address the energy crisis and soaring inflation. This is “the biggest crisis in the country’s modern history", he said.
He promised to reduce the budget deficit for 2022 under CZK300bn (€11.7bn), down from the current CZK377bn projected by the outgoing cabinet. Fiala also said his government will be pro-EU and pro-Nato, and will support cooperation within the Visegrad group.
The first meeting is to be held with the leader of the Pirate Party Ivan Bartos, the candidate for the minister of regional development and digitization. "According to my information, it will take place on Monday in Lany in the same form as the appointment of PM Petr Fiala today,” Bartos told the Czech News Agency.
“I want to discuss with the president the current crises in which the Czech Republic and its people find themselves and, of course, the visions and goals for the ministries for which Pirate ministers will be responsible in the new government," he added.