Prague - The Christian Democrats would leave the Czech government coalition if the abolition of the lustration (screening) law made it through to the second reading in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek told reporters today.
Předseda KDU-ČSL Pavel Bělobrádek představil 11. září na tiskové konferenci v Praze hlavní priority volebního programu strany před předčasnými volbami do Poslanecké sněmovny. ČTK Śimánek Vít
In such a case all ministers for the KDU-CSL would resign, he added.
He reiterated that the KDU-CSL was on principle against the abolition of the lustration law, which the Communists (KSCM) proposed.
In spite of this threat, the other two coalition partners, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO, do not demand that their deputies pledge to vote against the abolition.
"The coalition will undoubtedly not disintegrate over the Communist proposal for the abolition of lustration," Prime Minister and CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said today, in reaction to the KDU-CSL´s stance.
At a press conference later today, Sobotka recommended that Belobradek read the coalition agreement attentively.
"If the KDU-CSL wanted to leave the coalition, there is the arbitration procedure that the relevant coalition partner should initiate before [leaving the coalition]," Sobotka said.
Since the KDU-CSL has not made any such request, there is no coalition crisis, Sobotka said.
The Communists are unlikely to push their proposal through, he added.
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.
"We have clearly warned our coalition partners that if the Communist proposal for the abolition of the lustration law made it through to another reading, we would consider it a reason to terminate the coalition cooperation," Belobradek said.
The Christian Democrats want the Chamber of Deputies to vote on the KSCM's proposal before the vote of confidence in the coalition government of the CSSD, ANO and KDU-CSL to be held on February 18.
However, the Christian Democrats did not push it through that the lower house would finish the debate on the lustration abolition bill today.
Deputies will debate the KSCM´s proposal again on Tuesday as the Social Democrats, with some ANO and KDU-CSL MPs, pushed through the debate´s postponement later today.
The KDU-CSL said earlier this week it would consider their government coalition partners' possible voting for the abolition of the lustration law a breach of the coalition agreement.
The Christian Democrats sharpened their stance today.
Culture Minister Daniel Herman (KDU-CSL) said its would be a matter of principle for the Christian Democrats and that the lustration abolition would undermine their trust in the possibility of the coalition cooperation.
"In such a case I am prepared to resign from the post of culture minister immediately," Herman said.
Belobradek added that the other two KDU-CSL ministers would do the same.
CSSD deputy group head Roman Sklenak said the Christian Democrats´ step had surprised him. He learnt about it from the media only, he added.
Sobotka previously said his party had not told its lawmakers how to vote on lustration.
ANO deputy group head Jaroslav Faltynek said he was convinced that ANO MPs would not support the law's abolition though it was not directly embedded in the coalition agreement.
However, he admitted today that he was wrong in his estimate and that some ANO MPs would vote for the lustration abolition.
The party would not instruct them how to vote, Faltynek added.
ANO chairman Andrej Babis, food and media tycoon, is mentioned in connection with the abolition of the lustration most often. He is suing the Slovak National Memory Institute (UPN) over his alleged collaboration with the communist secret police StB as its agent, which he dismisses.
If it were proved, he would have a problem gaining a negative lustration certificate which Czech ministers have habitually submitted.