Czech Republic′s Andrej Babis gets new shot at forming government | News | DW | 24.01.2018
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Czech Republic's Andrej Babis gets new shot at forming government

The nascent Czech government led by billionaire Andrej Babis stepped down after losing a vote of confidence. However, President Milos Zeman immediately asked Babis to try again, giving him another shot at finding allies.

The minority government formed by Andrej Babis ANO party officially stepped down on Wednesday, less than six weeks after the swearing-in ceremony. Last week, the cabinet failed a confidence vote in the parliament.

Immediately after the government stepped down on Wednesday, conservative President Milos Zeman gave the 63-year-old billionaire and acting Prime Minister Babis a new mandate to form another cabinet.

Read more: Czech billionaire Andrej Babis named new prime minister

According to the Czech constitution, every new government is due to automatically face a vote of no-confidence within weeks of being appointed. The populist ANO party won 78 out of 200 parliamentary seats in the October vote, putting far above any of the rival parties. However, due to graft accusations against Babis, smaller parties have so far refused to back him.

Babis and his appointees are due to be sworn in again in February, giving the ANO leader more time to look for partners in parliament.

Andrej Babis and President Milos Zeman in Prague (AFP/Getty Images/M. Cizek)

Babis first asked Zeman to form a new cabinet in October

Three strikes and out?

Babis has the backing of President Zeman, who is himself headed for a tight presidential run-off vote this weekend.

Read more: Czech presidential race boils down to Milos Zeman or not

On Wednesday, Zeman asked Babis to "make sure the cabinet will go on until a new cabinet is named."

"I ask you to lead talks on a new cabinet and I wish you success" Babis said.

If Babis once again fails to ensure enough votes in the parliament, it would be up to the chairman of the parliament to suggest the new head of government. This position is held by ANO deputy Radek Vondracek.

Babis has already said that the new government may not include him. Also, he has urged the parliament to lift his immunity so he could face the graft charges which prevented him from forming a majority.

Read more: 'Czech Trump' and insurgent parties benefit in Czech Republic election

'No one has stolen anything'

Andrej Babis puts his ballot in a box with cameras in the background (Reuters/D.W. Cerny)

Babis has pledged to fight illegal immigration

The Czech's Republic second-richest man is suspect of defrauding the EU of around €2 million ($2.34 million) in 2007. According to the prosecutors, Babis moved one of his farms, dubbed 'Stork Nest', out of his business empire Agrofert to make it eligible for a small-company subsidy from the EU. The farm was eventually returned to the holding.

"We want to prove that these accusations are completely fabricated," told a parliamentary committee last Tuesday.

He emphatically stated that, "no one has stolen anything, there was no corruption." 

dj/ls (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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