In Brief

With Communist Help, the Czech Republic Finally Gets a Government

More than six months after failing in his first attempt and almost nine months since parliamentary elections, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (pictured above, far left, with his cabinet) has finally managed to form a government, thanks primarily to a deal his ANO party has made with the country’s Communists.

A confidence vote, held early in the morning of July 12, saw 105 MPs (of 196 present) vote in favour of Mr Babis’s minority government.

“The parliament has voiced confidence in the cabinet,” said parliamentary speaker Radek Vondracek after a marathon session lasting more than 16 hours.

Mr Babis reached a deal with the Communists two weeks ago, when they agreed to support a minority coalition between ANO and the Social Democrats. The Communists will remain, however, outside government, and will not hold any cabinet posts. Nevertheless, the agreement brings them the closest they have been to power since the 1989 Velvet Revolution which ended one party communist rule in the Czech Republic.

The staunchly pro-Russian and anti-NATO Communists have reportedly pledged to back Mr Babis in exchange for positions in state-owned enterprises.

“This situation is brand new, it’s a shift,” Tomas Lebeda, a political analyst from Palacky University in the eastern city of Olomouc, told AFP. “But it’s not a revolution. The Communists have experience with such support and even governing on the regional and municipal level,” he added.

Prior to the vote, thousands of protesters gathered outside parliament to make it clear that many ordinary Czechs do not want to see the Communists form part of any Czech government, no matter how informally.

Photo: Vlada.cz