Regular meeting of the House of Representatives, February 21, 2023, Prague. Deputies consult on the further course of the meeting.
Prague – The opposition movement ANO and SPD failed to advance the parliamentary debate on the government's proposal to reduce the June valorization of pensions, which the Chamber will discuss at an extraordinary meeting starting next Tuesday. The block of proposals for changes to the program of the current meeting of the lower house lasted almost four hours today. The opposition failed with two dozen requests for modifications. At the proposal of the coalition, the Chamber of Deputies has already approved the possibility of meetings after 19:00 and 21:00 for today. Coalition politicians announced this procedure in advance in the event that the opposition would hinder the proceedings of the House by proposing changes to the agenda of the current meeting.
pension” /> pension” />
The president of the ANO club, Alena Schillerová, unsuccessfully proposed that today the deputies discuss the state of legislative emergency in order to approve the pension amendment to limit valorization. According to her, it was announced on purpose. She subsequently failed to push for an immediate vote to repeal it. SPD leader Tomio Okamura, in turn, wanted the Chamber to include an item about “the government wants to rob pensioners” for today.
A state of legislative emergency allows laws to be approved more quickly. Schillerová drew attention to the fact that it can only be used in exceptional circumstances, as it also significantly limits the rights of the opposition. The cabinet requested the declaration of a legislative emergency due to the threat of significant economic damage, but according to Schillerová, the Czech Republic is only facing “the incompetence and dilettantism of the government”. “The state of legislative emergency was declared just to shut us up,” Schiller said. She asked the Speaker of the House Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09) to explain why she declared a state of legislative emergency.
Pointing to the parliamentary lawyers, Pekarová Adamová said that she had to proceed in this way at the request of the cabinet and had no room for evaluation. She pointed out that the House of Representatives will vote to decide whether the draft law will be debated in this regime. Schillerová then wanted the deputies to vote immediately on the cancellation of the legislative emergency. “I consider these proposals to be pointless,” commented Schiller's request, head of the ODS deputies, Marek Benda. He pointed out that it is not possible to vote on it when the House does not yet have an approved agenda for the meeting. After a procedural dispute and after consultation, the chairperson Věra Kovářová (STAN) did not allow the vote on the abolition of the state of legislative emergency. Schillerová then questioned not only her procedure, but also the fact that she allowed a vote on the proposal of the chairman of the People's Deputies, Marek Výborný, on the possibility of a night meeting of the House of Representatives.
According to Schillerová, the cabinet knew that the January inflation rate would meet the conditions for this year's extraordinary pension valorization, but did not put a single crown into the state budget for it. In addition, according to Schillerová, the government waited with the pension amendment until after the presidential elections. According to her, this change in valuation will save each pensioner an average of 7,000 crowns this year alone. The deputy speakers of the House of Representatives for ANO, Klára Dostálová and Karel Havlíček, also requested a debate on “reduction of pensions”. “The government knows that pensioners will not take to the streets and protest,” Dostálova said. Havlíček considers the government's proposal to be unethical and a “sham”. The Chamber also rejected Milan Ferance's (ANO) request that MPs discuss the lifting of the state of legislative emergency today in a separate point of the meeting.
Okamura repeated that SPD MPs will block the approval of the pension bill. “Even if we were to spend the night in the Chamber for several days, we will prevent it,” he declared. If the amendment is adopted, the SPD wants to challenge it at the Constitutional Court. “This is disgraceful, which can be compared to theft in broad daylight,” added Okamura, who unsuccessfully proposed to discuss other extraordinary points. He demanded that MPs debate, for example, possible tax increases, rising prices and the availability of housing.
The Austrian asks to discuss the proposal for a correspondence election from abroad
The Minister of the Interior and Deputy Prime Minister Vít Rakušan (STAN) asked the leadership of the House of Representatives to include the Senate's proposal to introduce a correspondence election from gardeners to the plenary session. He told journalists today at the press conference of his party faction that the standard is viable, so it is not necessary for the ministry to submit its own proposal. According to him, the Senate proposal is of high quality. The Senate approved the norm in October 2021, the deputies have not yet included it in the agenda of the meeting.
According to the current rules, Czechs abroad can only vote at embassies, which is time- and financially expensive for compatriots who live far from their residences. According to the proponents of the change, the Czech Republic is one of the last five EU countries that have not yet legalized postal voting. According to them, 600,000 Czechs who live abroad permanently or have gone there for work or study could use the post office to vote. The last time the topic resonated was during the January election of a new head of state.
The amendment is based on the government law on election management. It is expected that the voter will request an identification card, a pre-filled delivery envelope and a voting envelope from the embassy. He would print out a ballot with his preferred electoral grouping on the website of the Ministry of the Interior, or mark it with preferential votes, then put it in a ballot envelope and then put it in a delivery envelope with the completed identification card. He would then send or personally deliver the document to the embassy, which would hand it over to the election commission on election day. The tickets would then be counted along with the others in the overall election results. The creators of the amendment estimated the costs at five million crowns.
The Senate has been trying to introduce correspondence voting for a long time, similar to some parties in the House of Representatives.