Czech press survey - January 22


22.01.2014 07:38

Prague - Czech Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek uses the lesser evil theory by preferring a hasty passage of the civil service bill, though with many shortcomings, to the continuation of the caretaker government, Petr Pesek writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.


Předseda KDU-ČSL Pavel Bělobrádek odpovídá 20. prosince v Praze na otázky po jednání předsedů ČSSD, ANO a KDU-ČSL o rozdělení míst v koaliční vládě. ČTK Šulová Kateřina

To choose a lesser evil is a typical argument in politics but on the Czech scene it has been used too often lately, Pesek adds.

He says that on Tuesday Belobradek tried to soften the criticism of the civil service bill and the attempt to pass it quickly under the pressure of circumstances.

Belobradek recalled that President Milos Zeman made the appointment of the new coalition government of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and the KDU-CSL conditional on the lower house passing the civil service bill at least in first reading.

Pesek writes that it would be unjust to connect Belobradek with the legislation since his Christian Democrats are neither a subject nor an object of it.

If the Christian Democrats as well as the rest of the coalition consider it a necessary minimal tax to be paid for Zeman´s consent to the government, it sounds as an acceptable price. However, there is a risk that Zeman starts liking this game with conditions, Pesek concludes in LN.

Jiri Pehe asks in Pravo today whether President Milos Zeman and the nascent government of Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka will really cooperate, which, he says, would be a breakthrough compared to the past years.

Pehe reminds of the problematic relations between previous president Vaclav Klaus and the cabinets, no matter if right-wing or left-wing ones. Klaus vetoed 57 bills in ten years, Pehe recalls.

Nevertheless, the disputes between the nascent government coalition and Zeman are in a way more serious than the squabbles between Klaus and various prime ministers since they touch the real grounds of the constitutional system. This is why they also more threaten the stability and image of the Czech Republic, Pehe points out.

Sobotka and his coalition won the first round of the battle with the president who had to appoint Sobotka as PM. Zeman might be aware of the fact that he would not win the war after another battle. This may be why he spent a major part of his meeting with Sobotka discussing their future cooperation, Pehe adds.

"Only the weeks to come will show whether Zeman will choose the path of cooperation with the government or whether he will rather undermine it and continue in his open confrontation with parliamentary politics in general. It is apparent which of the two options would be better for the Czech Republic after the period of political and economic turbulences. We can only hope that the president knows it as well," Pehe concludes in Pravo.

President Milos Zeman is acting on the verge of an anti-constitutional stance over his refusal to appoint university professors, Karel Steigerwald writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

He recalls that the Czech president has no legislative power, he is not an MP to vote on bills, and though he is a supreme constitutional official, his powers are quite limited. This causes a problem to every head of state and hardly anybody resists the temptation to extend his powers, Steigerwald writes.

He adds that Zeman, for his part, does not feel like appointing professors, which he is obliged to do under the respective law that he cannot change. He could find an influential group of MPs who could do so.

However, Zeman is instead seeking another path. He has announced who and why should appoint professors. It is a mere proposal of his but the public accepts it as an instruction and university rectors are debating it with Zeman, Steigerwald says.

On the one hand, it is amusing to watch an obstinate president choosing what he wants to do out of his duties, but on the other hand, it is serious since he is approaching the violation of constitutional principles. And the public does not wonder at it, Steigerwald writes on conclusion.

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