Prague - Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD), the probable new Czech prime minister, today said he would temporarily head the respective ministry if President Milos Zeman refused to appoint any of the candidates Sobotka has proposed for ministerial posts.
Předseda ČSSD Bohuslav Sobotka v pražském studiu České televize, kde 5. ledna vystoupil jako host diskusního pořadu Otázky Václava Moravce. ČTK Kamaryt Michal
It is possible to do so. A rejection of a ministerial candidate [by the president] is no reason for the whole cabinet not being appointed, Sobotka said in an interview on Czech Television (CT).
If Zeman rejected any candidate, Sobotka said he would propose another candidate only if Zeman gave serious legal or constitutional reasons for his refusal. The president cannot refuse to appoint a candidate over an opinion difference, for example, Sobotka said.
"I firmly believe that such problems will not occur," he emphasised.
He previously said he may challenge the presidential powers at the Constitutional Court (US) if Zeman rejected one or more of the candidates for ministers.
Sobotka presented his planned cabinet´s lineup to Zeman on Friday. In the 17-seat cabinet, the CSSD will have eight seats, the ANO movement six and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) three seats.
Sobotka today described the list of ministers he submitted to Zeman as "preliminary," but also said he does not suppose it to change.
The coalition wants to disclose the government´s lineup officially after it signs the coalition pact on Monday.
"The coalition will back the lineup it will officially submit to the president," Sobotka said.
Afterwards, it will be up to Zeman when he will appoint the prime minister-designate and subsequently the cabinet. No concrete date has been set yet. Zeman has mentioned January in this respect so far, said Sobotka.
Zeman has not yet appointed Sobotka, head of the election-winning CSSD, prime minister-designate, but only asked him to conduct government-forming negotiations.
Sobotka said he will present the coalition pact to Zeman at their meeting next week, when they will also discuss concrete dates of the appointment of prime minister and his cabinet.
No time gap between the two steps is necessary, Sobotka said.
Observers say Zeman might be opposed, also due to personal discords, to the appointment of the CSSD´s ministerial candidates Lubomir Zaoralek (foreign affairs) and Jiri Dienstbier (minister without portfolio). He also previously said he would not appoint ANO´s Martin Stropnicky defence minister, a position the coalition wants him to hold.
Sobotka today said he may temporarily head one or two ministries if the respective posts of ministers remained unoccupied.
Opposition TOP 09 deputy chairman and former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek said in an interview on Prima Television that Zeman is doing his utmost to influence the new cabinet´s lineup as much as possible.