Uncertainty over security policy plagues forming of Czech government

  • Petr Boháček
  • 30.5.2018 16:31

After seven months of coalition talks, the Czech Republic remains without a government with parliamentary support. The winner of the October Parliamentary election, the populist ANO movement, is eyeing again a government with radical parties, the Communists and far-right SPD. This already carries implications for the country’s security policy.

Unprecedented pressure on the Czech Republic’s foreign and internal security policy has been exerted by the Communists (KSCM) as well as the far-right SPD party over the last three months of talks to form a government between the populist ANO movement and the Social Democrats (CSSD).

The two radical parties enjoy a unique position in the parliament. A cabinet of ANO and CSSD would still require a silent support from the Communists. Should the talks fail, the ANO movement can still form a government with the Communists and the extremist SPD, a voting coalition of a sort that the three parties used to advance many ANO proposals including key parliamentary nominations.

Chairman of the Communist Party (KSCM), Vojtech Filip answers journalists' questions before a meeting with the leader of the ANO movement ('YES') on October 31, 2017 in front of the Czech Parliament in Prague. Copyright Profimedia.cz

Firstly, the Communists rejected the support of billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis of the joint French, American and British strikes in Syria on, before he himself backtracked the remarks following his meeting with Czech pro-Russian President Milos Zeman. Further, the KSCM voiced its opposition to the Czech participation in NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Lithuania and Latvia, where Prague will send 290 soldiers this year. The party that carries the legacy of the totalitarian Soviet-led Czech Communist regime of the pre-1989 era also conditioned its support for the government with having an influence over the country foreign policy with their pro-Russian stances.

Prague, Czech Republic. 9th May, 2018. Demonstration against Premier Babis, President Zeman, SPD's Tomio Okamura and the Communists. Copyright Profimedia.cz

Meanwhile, the SPD, a typical far-right anti-migration and xenophobic movement, has secured the chair of the internal security parliamentary committee. The committee, led by SPD’s Radek Koten – a member of various disinformation, pro-Russian and anti-Islamic groups on social media, will have to approve the Interior Ministry report on internal security. On top of this, Interior Minister Lubomir Metnar (ANO), a controversial appointment himself with past anti-NATO/EU and pro-Russian views, has according to Aktualne.cz delayed the release the internal security report which reportedly describes the extremist views and practices of SPD as one of the security concerns.

Should ANO be rejected, the populist movement can quickly fall back to the alternative with the Communist and the SPD to avoid early elections.

The ANO movement of populist billionaire Andrej Babis does not want to alienate SPD with the report just yet. ANO is waiting whether the Social Democrats will decide by 15 June in an internal referendum to form a coalition government led by the ANO party. Should ANO be rejected, the populist movement can quickly fall back to the alternative with the Communist and the SPD to avoid early elections.

President Milos Zeman already signalled he will again name Babis as the Prime Minister in either case. ANO’s cabinet members, who were the biggest critics of governing with the far-right party or those the SPD marked as unacceptable to govern with, have either left the government or signalled their departure. They include Transportation Minister Daniel Tok, Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky, Defence Minister Karla Slechtova or Justice Minister Robert Pelikan.

Andrej Babis has not been able to secure a support for his minority government since the October Parliamentary election but continues to rely on his power partnership with re-elected President Zeman. While strongly Euro-Atlantic Foreign Minister Stropnicky ensured the traditional pro-Western foreign policy the path of the Czech Republic following the election, his departure and growing influence of radical parties, as well as the pro-Russian President, are raising doubts about the country’s security policy.

About author: Petr Boháček


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