The new cabinet of Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) on Thursday evening finally got the green light from the lower house of parliament, a step needed in the Czech political system. However, the success was diluted by several issues surrounding one of the coalition parties.
A debate ahead of a vote of confidence in the five-party coalition government carried on all through Wednesday night. After 22 hours, the session was adjourned on Thursday morning and resumed in the evening.
The government has 108 mandates in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies and can obtain a majority. However, the two opposition parties, former government member ANO and far-right SPD, obstructed the procedure for many hours, making it the longest vote of confidence session in Czech history.
Among the reasons for the long debate was the controversial financing of one of the new governing parties called STAN. Because of it, far-right leader Tomio Okamura has called for the STAN chairman and Interior Minister Vít Rakušan to resign.
Rakušan refused but said the money will be returned if the donor in question is proved to be connected to crime. Several media pointed out that both the ANO and SPD have previously had similar problems with controversial party financing, only on a much larger scale.
The problems of STAN, a party consisting mainly of mayors and other lower-level representatives, did not end there. One of the party’s MPs Jan Farský announced this week that he had obtained a Fulbright scholarship in the US and will be leaving for six months while remaining in office. This has triggered an uproar, especially on social media.
(Ondřej Plevák | EURACTIV.cz)