Czech press survey - February 03


03.02.2014 08:35

Prague - The Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) is united for the first time after eight years in opposition and its chairman and new PM Bohuslav Sobotka´s firm position will depend on his election and government successes, Ondrej Koutnik writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.


Premiér Bohuslav Sobotka. ČTK Doležal Michal

This does not show that the Social Democrats love Sobotka but they are greedy for high posts after years in opposition, and the participation in the government will bring a lot of them at ministries and state-owned firms, Koutnik writes.

Consequently, the aversion to Sobotka is put aside, and pragmatism prevails in the CSSD. Sobotka now means a promise of lucrative posts so there is no reason for attacking him, Koutnik adds.

He says there are many opponents of Sobotka among the CSSD deputies but under the current circumstances it is not probable that any of them would stand up against him openly.

Sobotka´s future position will depend on his achievements in the cabinet and his results in the upcoming elections, Koutnik writes.

Never before a former communist secret police (StB) officer had such a high chance of influencing political events in the country as during the court proceedings about ANO chairman and Finance Minister Andrej Babis's suspected collaboration with the StB, Ludek Navara writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

Billionaire Babis is registered as an informer and later an agent of the StB in its files that are preserved in Slovakia. He, however, claims that the documents were fabricated and filed a legal complaint in this respect against the Slovak Nation's Memory Institute (UPN), administering the security forces' files. The trial started in Bratislava last week but was adjourned until April.

Navara recalls that the key witness is a former StB officer who testified in the court that the content of Babis´s StB file, in which he figured as "agent Bures" - a wilful collaborator, was false.

Navara along with the UPN´s defence lawyer asks whether this witness has received a "reward" for such a testimony.

He says that the man was either lying in the past when he kept the Babis file or he is lying now.

This retired secret policeman has never during his career had such a great possibility to influence events around him, which is a historical paradox.

"He probably realises it very well. We others should also realise our roles, that we all are, on the contrary, a bit hostage of this man," Navara writes in HN.

The new government of Bohuslav Sobotka has promised to abolish the second pillar based on private pension schemes without planning an alternative pension reform, Petr Fischer writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN), calling this behaviour "pension procrastination."

He says the introduction of the second pension pillar was actually one of the few really reform steps that the previous centre-right government of Petr Necas had dared to take. It was to help public budgets, prevent a pension crisis and primarily change people´s way of thinking in relation to old age.

However, the new coalition of Sobotka´s Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) will further rely on the pay-as-you-go system and commercial additional insurance and hope that it will survey the four-year term without a major pension crisis.

The Sobotka government will postpone the problems with the population ageing and the rise in the number of pensioners until the future, so its successors will have to solve them.

"Procrastination is human," Fischer writes citing a Latin proverb. However, in the pension policy, for which money is lacking, this behaviour has very concrete and visible human limits, he adds.

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