Grayling Political Digest: Is another government nigh?
Company: Grayling Czech Republic, s.r.o.
Are you in or out? This is the question being mulled by the Social Democrats, as they are the ones who have to decide whether to take part in a coalition government with the ANO movement but propped up in the background by the Communist Party. We also need to bear in mind that, for the first time since the Velvet Revolution in 1989, the Communists are very close to influencing Czech government policy.
However, this hesitant line of reasoning when it comes to government participation is not exclusively limited to Andrej Babiš’s potential coalition partners, but lately has become a point of deliberation among ANO members themselves. Some members of the movement are opposed to the ad-hoc cooperation with the anti-immigrant and anti-EU Direct Democracy Party (SPD) headed by Tomio Okamura. There’s the vocal opposition of the Minister of Justice, Robert Pelikan, and the more cautious tone of Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch, who has admitted that he would probably not be part of a government supported by the SPD.
It has been quite a while since the Czech Republic had a government supported by a majority in the Chamber of Deputies and this time is no different, with increasing haziness surrounding the issue of who will feature in Babiš’s second government. The current caretaker transport, defence and foreign affairs ministers are unlikely to continue in the new government.
Despite all the uncertainties, which include the upcoming results of a grassroots Social Democratic referendum to be announced on 15 June, recent days have given us one “assurance”. The president will appoint Mr Babiš as the new PM next Wednesday for a second time before mid-June. In this hesitant time, that is one of the few certainties we have.
The future is electric
It has begun – the rise of electric cars is upon us. Over the past few months, we have witnessed a clear increase in the number of legislative and other regulatory alleviations for electric vehicles (EVs). While the price of owning an electric car remains high, both the general public and experts are optimistic, foreseeing a significant decrease in price after 2020.
Feeling encouraged, large corporations and car-sharing services are jumping on the electric bandwagon and purchasing more and more EVs. They currently benefit from zero road tax and free parking in Prague, with other potential advantages coming in near future.
Inspired by what he has seen abroad, the influential ANO MP Martin Kolovratník has prepared an amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act that could see low-emission vehicles using a special number plate. In the future, cars with these plates could benefit, for example, from specially designated traffic lanes. The Ministry of Transport also introduced a subsidy scheme to support infrastructure for electric vehicles just last year. Furthermore, the biggest Czech car manufacturer, Škoda Auto, has announced plans to start EV pre-sales next year.
The dusk of loan advertising?
Personal debt has always been one of the major problems of modern society and can sometimes lead to unfortunate life-altering events, sometimes ultimately resulting in homelessness. This is perhaps the line of reasoning behind one of the latest legislative proposals by a group of MPs from the Communist Party. The draft amendment to the Advertising Regulation Act they submitted this week proposes to a near-blanket ban on all promotions of banking and non-bank loans, encompassing TV, the internet, commercials and newspaper ads.
While the fight against poverty has been one of the main priorities in the Communist Party’s political programme, no major proposals regarding this topic have ever come close to being adopted by MPs. However, as noted in the article above, the Communists are now closer to wielding influence over the government than ever before. We can see from the situation in the Chamber of Deputies how the ANO movement has been forced into a compromise on foreign military missions of Czech soldiers in order not to alienate the potential left-wing support of their new government. This might very well be the end of loan advertising in the Czech Republic as we know it.
More news from Czech political life here.