Fiala’s Government Survives First No-Confidence Vote

The debate in the lower house before the vote lasted 22 hours. Photo Credit:

Prague, Sept 2 (CTK) – As expected, the Czech coalition government of Petr Fiala (ODS) survived its first vote of no confidence, initiated by the opposition ANO with support from Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), in the Chamber of Deputies today.

The five-party cabinet of ODS, Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), TOP 09, Pirates and Mayors and Independents (STAN) will thus keep governing with the confidence of the lower house of the Czech parliament.

ANO, supported by the SPD, initiated the no-confidence vote over the affair surrounding Petr Mlejnek, head of the civilian intelligence service (UZSI), who has since resigned from the post, and the government’s response to the energy crisis. The vote took place roughly eight months after Fiala’s government was appointed.

The debate in the lower house before the vote lasted 22 hours, starting on Thursday afternoon.

At least an absolute majority of 101 votes in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies was needed to topple the government. All 84 opposition MPs present voted no confidence in the cabinet and 100 MPs from the government coalition voted against the motion. The other 16 MPs, eight each from the government and opposition benches, were excused from the session.

Deputies voted one by one by acclamation, starting from the first selected by drawing a lot, Libor Turek (ODS).

Eight ANO MPs, including Chamber of Deputies deputy speaker Jana Mrackova Vildumetzova, did not take part in the vote, and from the government camp, five KDU-CSL MPs (including deputy speaker Jan Bartosek), two STAN MPs and lower house economy committee chairman Ivan Adamec (ODS) were absent.

ANO representatives previously promised not to trigger a no-confidence vote during the current Czech EU presidency. However, ANO leader and ex-Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the situation had changed.

Fiala responded that Babis was using the no-confidence vote in an attempt to cover up his own problems. Babis dismissed this, saying he was looking forward to the trial in the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) case, in which he is charged with EU subsidy fraud and harming EU financial interests.

Out of the 17 attempts to vote no confidence in Czech governments, only one has succeeded so far. This was in March 2009, when four MPs from the governing coalition sided with the opposition to topple the government of Mirek Topolanek (ODS) during the first Czech EU presidency. In the previous parliamentary term, Babis’s minority cabinet of ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD) survived three no confidence votes.

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