Regular meeting of the House of Representatives, February 21, 2023, Prague. ANO chairman Andrej Babiš.
Prague – After three hours, the House of Representatives reversed its decision to limit the time for speakers with a priority right to speak. She made the decision after midnight today after protests by the opposition against the original decision. According to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09), part of the agreement of the parliamentary factions is that the rate of valorization of pensions will be voted on on Saturday from 08:00. The opposition MPs then gave up part of the amendments to the controversial government amendment on lower pension growth in June, and the meeting was interrupted at approximately 0:15 until the morning vote.
The cancellation of the restriction was preceded by the behavior of ANO chairman Andrej Babiš, who decided not to respect the speaking time limit and refused to leave the podium. Opposition MPs supported him and surrounded the lectern so that Babiš could not possibly be taken out of the meeting hall. Due to this, the proceedings of the House of Representatives had to be interrupted until midnight also due to the negotiations of the parliamentary factions on how to resolve the situation. However, none of the speakers with priority rights used their right to speak for more than ten minutes at most during the night.
For example, the former deputy speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Jaroslava Pokorná, praised the compromise reached by the opposition MPs. She said she appreciated him. According to her, the difficult situation arose because the politicians of the government coalition and the opposition do not communicate with each other sufficiently.
The opposition drafted over 370 changes to the bill, in which the overwhelming majority proposed higher pension growth than the government. According to the agreement of the factions, the proposed amendments will now be compared by the parliamentary lawyers within two hours. Among the first, MPs should decide on SPD chairman Tomio Okamura's proposal to reject the government bill. The length of one vote will be reduced from 20 seconds to 15, the Speaker of the House announced in advance. According to the parliamentary website, 14 members of the lower house remained registered for the debate in the final round of approval.
The meeting of the lower house started on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., i.e. 86 hours ago. The actual meeting of the lower chamber lasted 69 hours without breaks.
The government amendment assumes that the average monthly pension will increase by 760 crowns from June instead of the expected 1,770 crowns, as would be the case under the currently valid legal rules. According to the explanatory report, the state will save 19.4 billion crowns this year and 33 billion crowns next year. Otherwise, according to the government, the ratio of pensions to the average wage would increase, which would put a disproportionate burden on the state treasury. The opposition rejects the government proposal, as well as its accelerated approval. In case the draft is enforced, he wants to turn to the Constitutional Court. According to her, due to the rate of inflation, pensioners are entitled to a full valuation.
Babiš refused to leave the lectern, the wider management of the House is discussing the situation
The leader of the opposition ANO, Andrej Babiš, twice refused to respect the decision of the coalition majority in the House of Representatives to limit speaking time for everyone and to leave the podium. Opposition MPs gathered around him to prevent Babiš from being removed from the hall. The meeting of the lower chamber was first interrupted for ten minutes. However, the situation did not change much after its end, and it is now being dealt with by members of the wider leadership of the House, which includes both coalition and opposition representatives. Because of this, the meeting was interrupted again.
Chairman Jan Bartošek (KDU-ČSL) after the first of the breaks asked the deputies to take their seats in the hall, so that further registrations could submit their amendments to the questionable reduction of the June valorization of pensions proposals. Babiš subsequently asked for his second appearance, which Bartošek allowed him to do. The opposition MPs then left the podium.
“You have no right to restrict me in my speech. That's why I will continue my speech,” said Babiš, pointing to the comment on the Act on the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure. At the end of the measured time, he again refused to leave the lectern, Bartošek turned off his microphone, just like in the first case, and the opposition legislators surrounded him again. “I repeatedly ask you to leave this area,” urged Bartošek in vain. “I am asking you to go away,” Babiš could be heard calling the chairman.
Taťána Malá (ANO) was supposed to speak on the amendment proposal, which Bartošek invited her to do and pointed out that she was running out of time. But Mála only said that Babiš should speak with priority and she would speak when it was her turn. “What you're showing is a normal tear-off calendar,” she declared. Zuzana Ožanová (ANO) was next in line to say that the leadership of the House of Representatives took advantage of the situation and is closing the catering establishments in the lower chamber. “With my body type, I can really stand it,” she remarked. Tomio Okamura (SPD) called the actions of the coalition an unconstitutional political coup. “You won't get us out of here, feel free to send Antony, the police, to us here,” he declared.
The chairman then called individual MPs according to the order of applications to speak on their amendments to the amendment. They did not do so and, according to Bartošek, their allotted time ran out after the timer ran out. However, various meetings of parliamentary leaders took place directly in the meeting hall, which resulted in the decision of the Speaker of the House Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09) to convene the so-called large board.
After 21:00, at the proposal of the coalition, after 83 hours from the start of the meeting on the controversial proposal to reduce the growth of pensions, the Chamber of Deputies limited the speeches of deputies to a maximum of two five minutes, including speakers with priority rights. The chairman of the People's Club, Marek Výbný, justified the proposal by saying that the opposition's obstructions had reached the level of destruction.
The Chamber limited the time for speeches by MPs, including priority speakers
The House of Representatives, at the proposal of the coalition, this evening limited the speech of MPs in the second reading of the controversial government proposal to limit the June valorization of pensions to a maximum of two five minutes, including speakers with priority rights. Short notes will also count. The chairman of the People's Club, Marek Výbný, justified the proposal by saying that the opposition's obstructions had reached the level of destruction. The proposal caused strong indignation in the opposition ranks.
“There has come a moment when obstructions have become the destruction of this House. It is impossible for the House to be blocked in this way,” Výborný said. He pointed out that the lower house is discussing the pension amendment for the fourth day. The balance between the rights of the opposition to delay the meeting and the fact that the parliamentary majority could fulfill this majority was fulfilled, according to the head of the People's Deputies. “It is the duty of the parliamentary majority to intervene,” he said. According to Výborný, the coalition considers the later approved proposal to limit the speaking time to be “a completely justified procedure in order to return the House to where it should be”.
The president of the ANO club, Alena Schillerová, protested against the coalition proposal, according to her, it was not possible to vote on it. “Your ego has completely clouded your reason,” she declared. She described the coalition's action as “absolute disgust” and asked whether the coalition would next come up with a resolution that the opposition should remain silent. SPD leader Tomio Okamura has declared that he will not jump on the bandwagon of censorship and silencing. “We are proceeding completely in accordance with the constitution,” he said.
The coalition had limited the time for MPs to speak in the House even in the previous stages of the meeting. But the restriction did not apply to speakers with priority rights or to short two-minute remarks. On Thursday, there was outrage in the opposition when the lower house, according to the proposal of the coalition, decided that there would be no general debate in the second reading of the pension bill.
The lower house started the fourth day of deliberations on pensions, opposition obstructions continue
< p>Today at 09:00, the Chamber formally opened the fourth day of the meeting on the controversial government proposal to reduce the June valorization of pensions, which the opposition is still obstructing today. She prepared 400 of her own amendments to the controversial government amendment. The number of people registered for the debate decreased from the night to 34 from the original 64. In the morning, representatives of ANO used the preferential right to speak for about half an hour.
The meeting of the lower parliamentary chamber started on Tuesday at 10:00. It now lasts 71 hours, including breaks. The meeting itself takes about 54 hours. “We may even have a nice weekend together,” said Alena Schillerová, chairperson of ANO deputies, regarding the possible length of the next meeting.
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and ANO Karel Havlíček pointed to the threat of annulment of the government amendment by the Constitutional Court, to which the opposition wants to turn if the proposal is adopted, and to the need to pay pensioners retroactively. Havlíček recalled the rise in food prices. “We made one big topic this week, and that is lečo. You made lečo a luxury food,” Havlíček reproached the coalition. He admitted that this was an exaggeration and that crop failures in Africa and bird flu contributed to the high prices of vegetables and eggs. But according to Havlíček, the coalition behaved arrogantly. “You've sent a message to pensioners that only an idiot wants to cook lecho in the winter,” he said.
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Klára Dostálová (ANO), criticized the government coalition for restricting the opposition's right to comment on one of the most important laws that the House is discussing this year, which is supposed to save the state 20 billion crowns. According to her, the government fills the treasury with the money of senior citizens. “We are not talking about units of people who will be affected by this. We are talking about millions of people,” she emphasized.
The government amendment assumes that the average monthly pension will increase by 760 crowns from June instead of the expected 1,770 crowns , as it would be according to the currently valid legal rules. According to the explanatory report, the state will save 19.4 billion crowns this year and 33 billion crowns next year. Otherwise, according to the government, the ratio of pensions to the average wage would increase, which would disproportionately burden the state treasury .
According to the head of ANO Babiš, the government is “totally impotent” in dealing with inflation
According to ANO chairman and former prime minister Andrej Babiš, the government is absolutely incapable of reducing inflation. The semi-state company ČEZ should be expropriated, the former Prime Minister said today in the House of Representatives in another speech, the aim of which is to at least delay the approval of the controversial government amendment to limit the growth of pensions. Babiš repeated that the only recipe for reducing inflation is capping electricity prices, which he called for a year ago. According to the ex-prime minister's ideas, ČEZ should pay the costs. His speech today lasted approximately 2.5 hours.
In the evening before 7 p.m., Babiš signed up for another obstructive speech, in which, as in the previous two speeches, he quoted the speeches of colleagues who could not deliver them due to the cancellation of the general debate: 00. He admitted that the debate about the controversial reduction in pension growth “doesn't lead to anything”, but he considers it “very educational” for himself. The Chamber of Deputies started its meeting 81 hours ago, devoting almost 66 hours to debates.
“You are totally impotent to deal with inflation,” Babiš told the cabinet. He also reproached him for not increasing wages so that their ratio to pensions would not decrease. “The solution is simple. Increase people's salaries,” said the ex-prime minister. After an hour and ten minutes of his own speech, Babiš continued to read out the speeches of his party colleagues, who could not deliver them in the canceled general debate, just like last night.
Deputy Prime Minister Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL) called the speech of the head of ANO a “recycling speech” full of misleading and erroneous numbers. According to Deputy Speaker of the House Olga Richterová (Pirates), Babiš's speech contained “untruths, half-truths and complete lies” and was one of those that are repeated endlessly, divide society and violate the limits of democratic functioning. Babiš was defended by his fellow party members. “Sweep in front of your own doorstep, behind your own too,” urged the coalition chairwoman of ANO deputies Alena Schillerová. Jana Mračková Vildumetzová (ANO) unsuccessfully proposed to suspend the discussion until March 20 or at least until Tuesday, March 7, which would jeopardize the timely approval of the amendment.
Babiš somewhat modified his promise on Wednesday to organize a pensioners' demonstration if the coalition enforces a lower pension increase in June. “Making demonstrations and tying up buses is not quite …,” said Babiš in an unfinished sentence. He also said that many demonstrations in the form of gatherings have already been announced. According to Babiš, one could protest in such a way that “one day in the evening all pensioners turn off the electricity and go out for some time”. “I'll think about it somehow and let you know,” promised the prime minister of the previous government.
According to data from the Energy Regulatory Office, last year in the Czech Republic, the so-called net consumption of electricity, which is adjusted for own consumption for electricity production, losses and electricity consumption for pumping, by 3.9 percent to 60.4 terawatt hours (TWh). Small consumption of the population, which consists of households including the elderly, made up roughly a quarter – 15.7 TWh. Enterprises and companies have the largest consumption, when bulk consumption from the high voltage level last year amounted to about 23 TWh.
In his speech, the former prime minister repeatedly criticized not only the policy of the current government, but also the Czech National Bank and the media. “I think I'm not obscuring. I'm talking to the point, I'm talking numbers,” the ANO chairman added to the fact that he is only trying to delay the approval of the government's amendment with his next extensive speech. As on Thursday, he talked about the introduction of a new totality. “Something changes here every moment, you change the laws as you want, so hell,” he said in the performance.
As expected, Babiš praised his actions as prime minister and finance minister and calculated who he, his government, or the foundation fund of the Agrofert holding, which the billionaire had to transfer to trust funds, helped. Babiš was critical of the plan of the current “government of national tragedy” to move away from coal as early as 2033. He complained that Richard Brabec (ANO) “has also turned a little green” when leading the Ministry of the Environment, even though he previously headed a chemical company.< /p>
The head of the SPD Okamura proposed the rejection of the controversial amendment to reduce the growth of pensions
SPD chairman Tomio Okamura proposed today the rejection of the controversial government amendment to reduce pension growth. He did so during his fourth obstruction appearance at this meeting. He also unsuccessfully proposed postponing the approval of the amendment by three weeks. His previous speeches lasted a total of 11 hours and 40 minutes, the current performance lasted an hour and a half. The deliberations of the MPs on the government's proposal have lasted around 56 hours so far. The head of the SPD also called on ANO to cooperate with the request to the Constitutional Court to cancel the government pension amendment, as the SPD does not have enough deputies to submit its own constitutional initiative.
According to Okamura, the cabinet wants to “rob” all groups of the population and the government's amendment is “contrary to all the principles on which the Czech pension insurance is based”. The chairman of the SPD repeatedly called the bill unconstitutional. “Its only goal is the effort of the incompetent and harmful Fialo government to reduce this year's state budget deficit, which the government itself is to blame,” Okamura said. He demanded to postpone the approval of the amendment, which the government needs to enforce by March 22 at the latest, to March 23 until 23:00. But his proposal was supported by only 35 of the 127 MPs present.
The SPD leader repeatedly reprimanded the government for helping Ukraine facing Russian aggression. “Don't drag us into a war, you crazy fools. Let no one drag us into a war between two post-Soviet republics,” the SPD chairman declared. He didn't miss naming the cabinet of Petr Fiala (ODS) as one of the worst governments in Europe.
Okamura accused KDU-ČSL chairman Marian Jurečka of securing the favor of influential party members through political newsagents not only at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. He then complained that Jureček non-verbally called his words “chattering” with a hand gesture, and objected to such a way of communication. “To be fair, I don't poop on my head,” Okamura said. The head of the SPD movement, which the government's report on extremism described as a group with xenophobic and strongly nationalistic elements, marked the Speaker of the House of Representatives and TOP 09 Markéta Pekarová Adamová as a political extremist. in case of its approval in both parliamentary chambers, he vetoed it. “We'll see which side the president is on,” Okamura said. He predicted that “certainly there is a deal to rob 3.5 million pensioners”. MP Jarmila Levko (STAN) pointed out that according to the Czech Statistical Office, there were 2.844 million pensioners in the Czech Republic at the end of last year, including those with disabilities.
ANO representatives intend to turn to Pavel. “We have to talk him out,” said ANO leader Andrej Babiš last night, whom Pavel, supported by the government parties, defeated in the final of the January presidential election. Pavel had previously promised that he would announce his intentions with the amendment the day after he made the pledge, i.e. on Friday, March 10.
Okamura called on the ANO movement not to politicize and not to send its own initiative regarding the pension amendment to the Constitutional Court, but to MPs from both opposition movements filed it together. “We cannot submit it without you,” admitted the chairman of the SPD, which has only 20 deputies. The initiative to the Constitutional Court must be signed by at least 41 deputies.
In his speech, the chairman of the SPD also presented some of the 102 amendments that the deputies of his movement prepared for the government proposal. The total number of amendments proposed by ANO MPs since the night is close to 400. According to ČTK insider information, it is assumed that the Chamber of Deputies will be able to vote on the amendments this evening at the earliest and that the vote could last until at least midnight.