Prague - Czech deputies rejected the proposal to cancel the lustration laws submitted by the Communists (KSCM) in the first reading today.
Ministr financí Andrej Babiš (vlevo) a premiér Bohuslav Sobotka na schůzi Poslanecké sněmovny 4. února v Praze. ČTK Šulová Kateřina
The Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) said last week if the proposal made it through to the second reading, they would leave the government composed of them, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO.
The lustration law of 1991, whose validity has been repeatedly extended, bars former high-ranking Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC) officials, StB collaborators and members of the KSC's para-military force People's Militia from occupying senior posts in state institutions, the judiciary and the military.
The rejection of the abolition of the law was backed by 121 out of the 167 deputies present, with 39 being against it.
The proposal was ditched by the deputies for TOP 09, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and the KDU-CSL as well as 35 Social Democrats, 27 deputies for the ANO movement and ten for the Dawn.
The bill started to be debated by the Chamber of Deputies last week. After a heated discussion, the deputies held the vote today.
The lustration laws were denounced by former KSCM leader Miroslav Grebenicek.
He said they had stopped the career to a number of people and although they were supposed to be only valid for a limited time, they were still in force until now.
Grebenicek said on account of court decisions, many people had appeared on the lists of the former StB secret service collaborators, while many StB members had received an exception for further work at the Interior Ministry.
"The Communist regime was criminal, it committed treason and harmed this nation," the Chamber of Deputies deputy chairman Jan Bartosek (KDU-CSL) said.
Culture Minister and former director of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR) Daniel Herman (KDU-CSL) stressed that the lustration laws aimed at perpetrators, not at victims.
Head of the TOP 09 deputy group Miroslav Kalousek criticised the Christian Democrats for a deal with President Milos Zeman under which he would not demand that ANO leader Andrej Babis present a lustration certificate in order to appoint him to the post of the finance minister.
Kalousek said the KDU-CSL's attitude was dangerous.
Former justice minister Pavel Blazek (ODS) said Zeman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) breached the lustration law.
At the end of last year, Zeman set as his condition for Babis's appointment his being cleared of the suspicion that he collaborated with the StB. Later he rather softened his stand. He said it would be enough for an amendment to the civil service law going through the first reading in the Chamber of Deputies.
Babis's name figures in a file of the communist secret police as its collaborator. He dismisses it and seeks exoneration in court in Slovakia where he was born.