Monday, 24 July 2017

Gov't fails to push through bills before new elections

ČTK |
17 July 2017

Prague, July 14 (CTK) - Government-sponsored bills repeatedly failed in the Chamber of Deputies three months before the end of the election period, although the ruling coalition of the Social Democrats (CSSD), the ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) holds a comfortable majority in the Czech parliament.

On Wednesday, the Chamber rejected a new career advancement system for teachers, submitted by education ministers Katerina Valachova and Stanislav Stech (CSSD), and a bill on heritage conservation, which has been a priority of Culture Minister Daniel Herman (KDU-CSL).

Herman criticised the CSSD MPs after a part of them voted against the law.

CSSD MP Vaclav Votava dismissed the criticism. He said on Twitter that Herman himself was to blame because the bill was bad and even experts opposed it.

The career advancement system for teachers was pushed through the Chamber of Deputies already in April, but the Senate returned it to the Chamber with changes and ANO rejected it in the repeated vote, arguing that the public does not like the bill.

Stech said ANO changed its minds in order to increase its popularity among voters before the general election.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) is to talk about the priorities of his coalition government with individual ministers in the next few weeks.

"I believe that we managed to push through the vast majority of bills that we submitted to parliament and that were related to the key points of the government's programme. They concerned the social programme and fight against the grey economy," Sobotka said on Thursday.

But the advanced child maintenance to be paid by state, supported by the CSSD, and an amendment to the insolvency law worked out by Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO), were not recently shortlisted among the government's priorities.

Moreover, there is not enough time to take a vote on an amendment to the Labour Code, the extending of the powers of the Supreme Audit Office (NKU) and the approval of the status of university hospitals.

The parliamentary discussion about the bill on social housing, prepared by Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksova (CSSD), was interrupted this week, which means that it cannot be passed before the elections either.

The government parties did not vote unanimously already in May 2016 when the anti-smoking bill was rejected due to ANO. However, the coalition parties promptly submitted a new bill banning smoking in pubs and bars, which was passed and took effect seven weeks ago.

On Wednesday, the Chamber approved the deployment of Czech troops within NATO battlegroups in the Baltic states only thanks to support from the right-wing opposition parties, TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats (ODS).

In reaction, TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek wrote on Facebook that the inability of the government parties to administer the country seemed to have no limits.

After the current plenary session ending today, the Chamber of Deputies is likely to meet only in September. The lineup of a new Chamber will be decided in the elections due on October 20-21.

kva/dr

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