Czech Republic edges closer to new coalition government

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By Euronews
Petr Fiala is the leader of center-right SPOLU (Together) alliance.
Petr Fiala is the leader of center-right SPOLU (Together) alliance.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Petr David Josek

The Czech Republic is nearing a new government after liberal parties reached an agreement, three weeks after parliamentary elections.

Petr Fiala, a prospective prime minister, announced on Tuesday evening that his centre-right SPOLU alliance would lead any new ruling coalition.

Fiala's conservative Civic Democratic Party (ODS), part of the SPOLU grouping, has been holding talks with the liberal-progressive Piráti a Starostové (Pirates & Mayors) alliance.

ODS announced on Twitter that the two liberal-conservative alliances would sign a coalition deal when parliament convenes next Monday.

"We have agreed on a coalition agreement and what our coalition programme will look like," Fiala told reporters.

"We want to sign the coalition agreement on November 8. We have agreed on the structure of the government."

However, the country's President Miloš Zeman is yet to officially give the parties a mandate to form a new executive.

President Zeman, 77, remains in hospital and little is publicly known about his condition.

Fiala said on Facebook that the president's chief of staff told him that Zeman was "looking forward to meeting" with the ODS once he is transferred from intensive care.

If the president is unable to give the green light to a new government, the Czech parliament may vote to revoke Zeman's powers.

Zeman could also delay the new government by asking ally and incumbent Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to lead a new government.

Babiš' ANO party suffered losses in last month's election, but the populist leader remains in office.

Although the ANO still won the most seats (72) in October's vote, they fell well short of a majority of 101.

Meanwhile, the conservative-liberal alliances -- including the ODS and Pirates & Mayors -- collectively hold 108 seats.

Fiala said the centre-right coalition will also form a new Czech Minister of European Affairs, which would coordinate European Union policy.

One of the main tasks for the new Czech government would be controlling state finances amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional sources • DPA