Without Zeman, Fiala may soon be in power

Ludvík Hradilek

If Article 66 of the Czech Constitution is activated by a decision of the House and Senate, a government headed by ODS chief Petr Fiala could be appointed very soon.

Suppose everything goes smoothly and a new Lower Chamber is established and its president elected at the session starting on 8 November. In that case, the power to accept the mandatory post-election resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) and his cabinet will pass to the new head of the Chamber. He could also appoint the new Prime Minister and his ministers.

Babiš has already declared that he will not delay things and is ready to hand over his post to Fiala without any problems. The new head of the Chamber, reportedly from the Together coalition, will entrust Babiš’s government with his duties until he appoints a new government. This should be a matter of weeks, given that Fiala is already negotiating the composition of his government. The coalition has so far assumed that the new government could take office by Christmas.

However, the problem with a smooth changing of the guard may be the formation of the House of Commons. Although the Together coalition and the Pirates and Mayors coalition have announced that they want to have everything ready by the constituent assembly, there is no agreement with the opposition parties yet. Both ANO and the Okamura party are demanding that the proportional representation in the parliamentary bodies be strictly observed and are therefore waiting for an offer from both coalitions.

“If there is a marginal situation, we want our 72-member club to be respected as the largest,” said Radek Vondráček, the outgoing head of the Lower House.

Who will take over the power?

If Fiala became Prime Minister and President Zeman was still unable to exercise his office, he would become commander of the armed forces. He would be given other powers, such as commissioning ambassadors, bestowing and awarding state honors, appointing judges, and granting amnesty.

In addition to appointing the new government, the new Speaker of the House would also take over the appointment of constitutional judges and the CNB Banking Council members. However, he would not be able to return new laws to the House.