Czech PM survives confidence vote

The Czech Republic’s coalition government survived a vote of no-confidence on November 23 as the country’s opposition fell nine votes short of toppling the prime minister, Andrej Babiš.

Only 92 opposition MPs voted to oust the cabinet, short of the 101 needed. After a week of political soul-searching, the Social Democrats, who govern alongside Mr Babiš’s ANO party, decided not to vote with the opposition, having previously led many observers to believe that they would vote to remove the prime minister from office.

Tomáš Petříček, leader of the Social Democrats and the Czech foreign minister, admitted that there had been heated debate within the party but ultimately decided that it was not in the interests of the country to bring down the government.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he said that to do so would present the far-right SPD party with an opportunity to enter the government.

“If the Social Democrats leave the government, then there might be, for our European position, an even worse scenario. This is also about our responsibility as a party,” he said.

Mr Babiš faces charges of misusing EU subsidies. The prime minister has been under increased pressure of late following comments made by his son, who claims to have been ordered by his father to go to Crimea to avoid being questioned in the case. Mr Babiš denies all wrongdoing and says his son was in Crimea voluntarily.

Thousands of people protested against Mr Babiš last week in Prague, demanding his resignation. There were further protests following the no-confidence vote, with more expected during the coming days.