Keen to end lignite mine row SPOLU wins Czech elections, Babiš still in the game

The heat of the electoral campaign moved the question of the Polish-Czech negotiations over the fate of the Turów lignite mine to a back burner. Now, following the forming of the SPOLU (ODS, KDU-ČSL, and TOP 09) coalition including the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) party of Jan Zahradil, who, before people went to the ballot-boxes, expressed his will to reach a consensus on the matter, surpassed PM Andrej Babiš’s ANO 2011 party. However, it remains uncertain who grabs the reins of power nor how the situation would develop.

The centre-right coalition of SPOLU won the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament. PM Babiš’s ANO took second place, whereas the social democrats forming the current government failed to seize any seats in the chamber. Communists were just as unlucky.

“The tension surrounding the Turów mine calls for de-escalation. Should the ODS find itself in the government after the elections, we will reach an agreement that could be accepted by both parties [to the conflict]. Together with the [Polish] ruling Law and Justice PiS party, we are members of the same European political family [European Conservatives and Reformists; ECR], we will manage this better than Babiš,” Jan Zahradil, ODS MEP tweeted at the end of September.

Both PiS and ODS collaborate within the European Parliament and enjoy great mutual relations, hence if ODS members become part of the new government, the agreement should be easier to reach. However, it remains uncertain whether the SPOLU coalition’s victory will translate into governmental offices.

Moreover, Czech President Milosz Zeman intends to delegate PM Babiš to that task. Also, it is Mr Babiš’s ANO that will enjoy the largest share, as shown by the counting of votes according to the proportional system.

Even if this scenario proves right, PM Babiš would have to mobilise coalitionists from other parties. Even before the election results were announced, political commentators felt that he could reach out to one of the SPOLU constituting parties.

On Saturday evening, PM Babiš said that he would like to commence talks with SPOLU coalitionists on the matter. Its leaders do not intend to engage in such negotiations. Instead, they started parlaying with PIRSTAN coalition members already on Saturday. The suggestions concerning potential talks with ANO were discarded in an atmosphere of triumph.

The leader of SPOLU, Petr Fiala, said that he would approach President Zeman on Monday asking for scheduling a meeting. During the meeting, he intends to discuss tasking the politicians of the parties that actually enjoy the capacity to form such a coalition government.