Final coalition agreement promises tax cuts and a “Havel-style” foreign policy

Jan Handrejc

The coalition of Together (ODS, KDU-ČSL, TOP 09) and the Pirates and Mayors promise to enforce pension reform, increase spending on defense and culture, and regularly valorize payments to the health care system for the so-called state insured, i.e., children, pensioners and the unemployed.

In the coalition agreement signed by the leaders of the five parties on Monday, they also pledge to keep teachers’ salaries at least at 130 percent of the average wage. For example, the coalition also intends to declare two new national parks. It wants to restore a “Havel-style” foreign policy promoting democracy, human rights, and civil society.

“We will carry out a real pension reform that will set up a stable system of fair pensions,” the document says. Alongside this, the future governing coalition promises to reduce the length of time it takes to qualify for a pension, increase widow’s and widower’s pensions, or introduce the possibility of sending one percent of pensions to one’s parents or grandparents.

In social matters, the coalition also intends to push for automatic indexation of the minimum wage since the government now decides. It also wants, for example, to encourage part-time work by providing relief on insurance contributions and to introduce multi-year funding for social services.

Defense spending should be no more than 2% of GDP

According to the document, the Czech Republic should give two percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to defense by 2025, according to the document, an expenditure to be enshrined in law. The Czech Republic has committed to giving two percent of GDP to defense by 2024, but the current budget outlook does not envisage it by that date. “We are implementing key armaments modernization projects,” the document says. According to the coalition plans, support for exports of products and services from the Czech security and defense industry should be increased.

The coalition wants to spend 5.2 percent of the gross domestic product on education. It intends to focus on reducing the overall volume of the curriculum and promoting understanding over memorization. The future government parties want to maintain the standard education system, so-called inclusion, but they also want to subject it to a “careful review.” Regarding teachers’ salaries, the coalition promises to strengthen the above-fee components and evaluate principals’ work. Funding for universities should be changed so that they pay for science and high-quality, career-oriented teaching.

Supplementary health insurance

In the health sector, the coalition intends to promote the possibility of voluntary supplementary health insurance and speed up its digitalization development. Among other points on the agenda is ensuring access to care, especially in smaller municipalities and less populated areas. The chapter on health does not address the current spread of the covid-19 disease. The chapter on security states in general terms that the parties want to adapt and refine the crisis plans better to prepare the country for emergencies such as pandemics.

In the justice sector, the coalition wants to introduce a postal vote for Czechs abroad, pass a whistleblower law or reduce the time for bankruptcy to three years, when the process now takes five years in one of the options. It also promises a new Criminal Procedure Code and Civil Procedure Code to speed up proceedings, introduce tenure for prosecutors and clarify the conditions for the removal of the chief prosecutor. The coalition’s program does not include the legalization of gay marriage, mainly supported by the Pirates, while the People’s Party is primarily opposed. However, the document states that the coalition will support the modification of legal conditions for registered partners.

In internal security, the coalition plans to introduce mostly voluntary preparation of the population for crises or to revise crisis legislation. It intends to establish a “national security adviser” to ensure closer cooperation between intelligence and security services. The coalition also promises to preserve the rights of legal gun owners. In the administration’s case, which also falls under the Ministry of the Interior, the parties have committed, for example, to present plans to reduce the number of civil service posts within a year. However, they also plan to change salary scales so that the civil service can employ experts.

Sustainable development and new national parks

The environmental section of the document says the EU’s plan to achieve so-called carbon neutrality by 2050 is an opportunity to modernize the Czech economy by investing in sustainable development, clean and renewable resources, and a circular economy. When negotiating specific measures, the government will consider the possible social impacts and particular conditions of the Czech Republic, it says. The coalition also promises, for example, to declare the Křivoklátsko and Soutok national parks. There are currently four – Šumava, Krkonoše, Bohemian Switzerland, and Podyjí.

Czech foreign policy continues to be based on anchoring in the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Still, the document also mentions cooperation in the Visegrad Group, i.e., Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. The coalition wants to develop relations with the United States and Israel’s “traditional strategic partnership.” According to the document, it intends to review relations with Russia and China and deepen cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, for example, with Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, and Japan.

In culture, the coalition is returning to a long-standing promise by Czech governments to direct the ministry’s budget without compensation to churches towards one percent. It wants to draft a law on public cultural institutions and push for higher tax benefits for patronage and sponsorship. The coalition parties want to create an audiovisual fund from the cinema fund, with support for the gaming industry and involve the Senate in the election of public media boards since only the Chamber of Deputies currently selects their members.