The two opposition coalitions running in the Czech parliamentary elections held a month ago signed an agreement on forming a new government headed by Civic Democrat leader Petr Fiala.
The new coalition government of SPOLU (Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and TOP09), and the Pirate party and Mayors and Independents will be composed of 18 ministers, including three new posts for legislation, research and innovation, and EU affairs.
SPOLU will be in charge of finance, defence, labour and social affairs, transportation, health, justice, agriculture, environment, culture, and the new research and innovation post. The Pirates and Mayors will run the ministries of interior, trade and industry, education, regional development and digitization, foreign affairs, and the posts for legislation and EU affairs.
The outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babis has criticized the new cabinet for adding new ministerial posts which he said would increase costs and burden the state budget.
Regarding the Minister for European Affairs, Fiala, a former university rector, said that the new minister should not only be preparing the Czech presidency of the EU, which starts on July 1, 2022, but he should also better coordinate European policy “so that the Czech Republic can take advantage of its membership in the EU and better promote its interests,” Fiala explained.
The coalition agreement now needs to be approved internally by all parties. Close attention will be paid to the liberal-left Pirate party, as some of its members are strongly against joining the government and the party has many policy differences with the rightwing ODS.
But even if the Pirates do not end up entering the government, the governing coalition of four parties will still have a majority of 104 MPs in the 200-member chamber (it will have 108 with the Pirates).
For their failure to secure more seats, the Pirates blame their coalition partner, the Mayors. According to a Pirates’ internal analysis, the Mayors violated the coalition agreement by asking their voters to give preference votes to their candidates on the joint list the party ran with the Pirates. In an interview for the daily Pravo, the leader of the Mayors Vit Rakusan said that next time his movement will be running in the elections as a single party.
The outgoing government of Andrej Babis is expected to submit its resignation after the constituent session of the lower house.
Babis had originally indicated that President Zeman had offered him the first chance to form the government, but that the billionaire populist said he had turned the offer down after it became clear none of the opposition parties would work with him.
Zeman confirmed he is prepared to nominate Fiala as the new PM, however, he has not said whether he will nominate the new cabinet as suggested by Fiala. “For my part, I will do everything I can to ensure that this government is formed as quickly as possible,” the president said.
By going to opposition, Babis is preparing ground for his candidacy, promising voters that better times would come if he was elected to the Prague Castle. He has already started with approaching voters of his left-wing erstwhile partners, the Social Democrats, the Communists and the Oath party of Robert Slachta, which all failed to enter parliament.