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Czech President Zeman rejects minister nominee as row threatens ruling coalition

Czech President Zeman rejects minister nominee as row threatens ruling coalition

Czech President Milos Zeman has rejected the nominee for culture minister proposed by the junior government partners, the Social Democrats, in a dispute that has threatened Prime Minister Andrej Babis’ coalition.

The Social Democrats have demanded since May that Zeman appoint their deputy chairman Michal Smarda, arguing that the president has no constitutional authority to reject him.

Zeman on Wednesday rejected the nominee. “Mr Smarda was never involved in culture-related matters. For that reason he is not qualified for the position of culture minister.”

Constitutional experts have said the president does not have the right to veto candidates, and Social Democrat chief Jan Hamacek repeated Zeman should appoint Smarda. The ruling coalition of Babis’ ANO and the Social Democrats relies on Zeman’s allies in the Communist Party to secure a majority in parliament, Reuters said.