It might seem as a déjà vu, but it’s simply the story of the Czech PM Andrej Babiš, who is unable to distance himself from the accusations surrounding the questionable EU subsidies, which were used to build the infamous recreational farm called Stork’s nest. Over the past few weeks the PM had to face accusations, that he took part in a kidnapping of his own son Andrej Babiš Jr., who is one of the key players in the potential EU subsidy fraud investigation.
This shocking information was revealed in an investigative programme by Seznam TV and it caused an “earthquake” in the Czech Parliament, or we initially thought so. The developments in the week following the report were dramatic and Mr Babiš had quite a lot of explaining to do – mostly to his coalition partners. Apart from that, the opposition parties in the Chamber of Deputies decided to call a special meeting in the Chamber of Deputies regarding the vote of no-confidence to Mr Babiš’ government.
However, the governmental coalition remained intact with the Social democrats as the main coalition partner not taking part in the vote, therefore passively supporting the current government. Few weeks after the crisis the opinion polls show, that the public supports the ANO movement even more, despite the alleged kidnapping of Mr Babiš’ son. It seems that Mr Babiš’ position is not in any danger, for now.
Meanwhile the European Commission (EC) investigated the PM’s “conflict of interest” and according to its statement it is for the national authorities in the first instance to take the necessary action. However, some of the parties in the European Parliament are not that patient and the European Greens party called on Babiš to “sever all ties with the Agrofert group and resolve this conflict, failing that he must step down as Prime Minister.”
If you were in the Chamber of Deputies on 31 October, you would not have missed the applause in the plenary hall. Why was that? After months of negotiations and many soul-destroying hours of debate in the Lower Chamber, the Social Democrats pushed through an important amendment to the Labour Code in the third reading. Starting next summer, employees who get sick will be entitled to obtain financial compensation even in the first three days of sickness.
The Social Democrats have managed to build a coalition strong enough so that, even if senators decide to oppose the proposal, the Lower Chamber will likely be able to outvote them. This is a huge success for the party, which has been struggling with its priorities and identity lately.
There is just one small catch. Some of the ANO movement’s MPs insist that better oversight of sick workers needs to be introduced. In response, the Ministry of Social Affairs (run by a Social Democratic minister) had to step up a gear and quickly come up with the electronic sick leave note system. This proposal is going to be debated in the Lower Chamber in the autumn and we are curious as to whether there will be further huge applause at the end.
8th March 2019
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