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Czech politics in limbo with hospitalised president too ill to work

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By euronews
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German President Steinmeier (R) and Czech Republic's president Zeman at a ceremony ahead their meeting on August 26, 2021
German President Steinmeier (R) and Czech Republic's president Zeman at a ceremony ahead their meeting on August 26, 2021   -   Copyright  AFP

Politics in the Czech Republic remains in limbo after its president was taken ill shortly after the country held a general election.

Milos Zeman, 77, was rushed to hospital on October 10, a day after a vote that saw Prime Minister Andrej Babis lose the popular vote.

On Monday, officials admitted that health problems were preventing Zeman from working and that his long-term prognosis is “very uncertain".

On Tuesday, the Czech Senate's Constitutional Committee voted Zeman should be stripped of his powers, reported Radio Prague International.

Zeman is a heavy smoker and drinker who has suffered from diabetes. He has trouble walking and has been using a wheelchair.

While his role as president is largely ceremonial, he has a key role in choosing who to ask to form a new government.

If Zeman isn't able to act due to his illness or other reasons, the prime minister and the speakers of both houses of parliament will take over his presidential powers.

The new speaker of the lower house will select the premier if that happens. The new house will first meet on November 8 to elect the speaker and other officials. After that, the outgoing government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis has to resign.

A liberal-conservative, three-party coalition named Together won 27.8% of the vote on Saturday, beating Babis’ ANO (YES) party, which won 27.1%. A centre-left liberal coalition received 15.6% to finish third.

The two coalitions have pledged to govern jointly. They’re closer to the European Union mainstream than Euroskeptic Babis.

Together won 71 of the 200 seats in the lower house of parliament and the centre-left alliance won 37 seats, which would give their government a comfortable, 108-seat majority.