Czech Billionaire Premier Gets Snubbed in Bid to Stay in Power
(Bloomberg) -- Czech billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who suffered a surprising election defeat this weekend, ran into a wall when a rival party rejected his initial offer to discuss forming a new government.
A group of parties pledging to replace Babis won a combined majority in the ballot and wants to create a ruling coalition. The premier said he reached out to the strongest party in the alliance, the center-right Civic Democrats, which rejected his offer and said it would stick with its preferred partners.
Speaking in a televised briefing, Babis said President Milos Zeman promised during talks on Sunday to ask him to lead negotiations on forming the next cabinet, an informal step before the official appointment of a prime minister designate. Zeman had previously promised to name the leader of the single strongest party, which is still that of his ally Babis’s ANO.
The situation became muddled after Zeman was rushed to hospital on Sunday, and it’s unclear when he can move forward with the process. Babis, who remains in office in a caretaker role, has conceded he may end up in the opposition. But he also signaled a transfer of power might not be imminent.
“We won the elections in terms of the number of mandates, and if the president asks me, then I’ll announce my decision,” Babis said.
Meanwhile, the head of the upper house of parliament plans to request information about Zeman’s health from the president’s office. Senate leader Milos Vystrcil said he is “concerned” about president’s ability to carry out his duties. Zeman’s doctor said he didn’t give his medical team permission to disclose the diagnosis.
The opposition-controlled Senate has in the past discussed whether parliament could initiate the process of declaring Zeman unfit on medical grounds but haven’t made a formal move in that direction.
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