The Social Democratic Party elected Jan Hamáček, deputy chairman of the lower house, as the party’s new leader on Sunday, entrusting him with the task of entering into negotiations on a possible coalition government with Andrej Babiš’ ANO party. The move may bring a breakthrough in the stalled government talks, Radio Prague comments.
Jan Hamáček, a former speaker and now deputy chair of the lower house, represents a pragmatic wing in the ailing Social Democratic Party which took a severe beating in October’s general elections. In contrast to some of his rivals for the top post, Hamáček has advocated making the best of the opportunities that present themselves, rather than going into the opposition to give the party time to consolidate.
His task now will be to bring the divided party together and win the best possible deal for the Social Democrats in a future government. This in spite of warnings from his unsuccessful rival Milan Chovanec that ANO would exploit the Social Democrats and President Zeman’s advice that given their 15 deputies in the lower house the Social Democrats should not ask for ministerial posts. Shortly after his election, Hamáček said he would aim high.
“The least advantageous deal for us would be some form of tolerance under which we would give ANO a carte blanche to pursue its policy, without having the power to control or influence what the government is doing. So, as I see it, if we are going to negotiate about a government we should aim for direct participation in it.”
ANO leader Andrej Babiš, who has repeatedly made it clear that he would prefer a minority government of his own party members and unaffiliated experts, said he was ready for talks, but made it clear he was keeping all his options open.
5th March 2019