Former President Miloš Zeman gave an interview to the Czech Press Office in his new office, April 26, 2023, Prague.
Prague – According to former president Miloš Zeman, the YES movement will probably win the parliamentary elections. However, he is not convinced that his chairman, Andrej Babiš, will form a government, because for that he needs either a coalition partner or an opposition that will tolerate him. Zeman said this in an interview with ČTK.
“Of course, I am skeptical of pre-election polls, however, if most agencies agree that the ANO movement is leading in these polls, then there is no reason to doubt it too much,” said the ex-president about ANO's chances of success in the parliamentary elections. But Zeman is not convinced that Babiš would form the government after them. “Because in order to form a government, he needs either a coalition partner or an opposition that will tolerate his government,” he said.
When asked whether the current opposition parties ANO and SPD have a chance to form a joint government, Zeman replied that it depends on many factors. One is whether they will learn from the mistakes made in the presidential election campaign. In it, the SPD refused to directly support Babiš.
Zeman noted that ANO and the SPD differ significantly in their views on the relationship with the European Union, but on the other hand, they strongly agree in their views on most issues of domestic politics. He recalled Charles Darwin's statement that the closest related species commit the greatest aggression. “Which at least in domestic politics, at least in my opinion, ANO and SPD are,” he said.
Zeman does not plan to be active directly in politics after the end of his presidential mandate. He doesn't even want to patronize any of the political movements or parties with his name, for example. He pointed out that he is a voter of the ANO movement. According to him, it is enough if he votes for him. He sees no reason why he would patronize him or any other party.
He would meet with representatives of the government of Petr Fiala (ODS) if any of the ministers requested a meeting. Last week, in an interview in Mladá fronta Dnes, he criticized Finance Minister Zbyňek Stanjura (ODS) for some of his actions. He reproached him, for example, for the fact that the state budget does not take into account the costs of valorizing pensions and the exaggerated estimates of tax revenue from extraordinary profits. “The new mistake of Mr. Stanjura consists in the fact that he included an item from the income of emission allowances in the amount of 50 billion in the income of the state budget, without noticing that this item cannot be income of the state budget, because it is purposefully tied only to decarbonization operations,” said CTK.
Regarding Czech Television's information, according to which the Ministry of Finance proposed limiting some tax exemptions, Zeman said that he is a long-term opponent of these exemptions. However, he expressed doubts about the plan to cancel the so-called kindergarten fees.
Zeman will appeal to the leadership of ANO to keep Babiš in politics
Former president Miloš Zeman will appeal to the leadership of the ANO movement that its chairman Andrej Babiš remained in politics. According to Zeman, there are few real personalities in politics. During Wednesday's meeting, he criticized Babiš for the mistakes he made in the presidential campaign. Zeman said this in an interview with ČTK.
On Wednesday, the former president received Babiš in his new office in Prague's Dejvice. “It was a friendly conversation, we talked about the presidential campaign, but also about the prospects of the YES movement for success in the parliamentary elections,” said Zeman.
As part of “friendly criticism”, he criticized the former prime minister for three mistakes from the presidential campaign. According to him, Babiš somewhat neglected the economic crisis in his campaign, which is reflected in the decline in people's living standards. He considers the election billboard with the text that Babiš is not a soldier but a diplomat to be the second mistake. According to the ex-president, the last mistake was that Babiš described the election as a referendum on his person. “That would be a list of three mistakes, but on the other hand, I recognize that Andrej Babiš did very well in the TV debates,” he added.
At Wednesday's meeting, he also tried to explain to Babiš his intention to withdraw into the background in politics. “And since I also have a meeting with (Vice-Chairmen of the ANO movement) Karl Havlíček and Alena Schillerová on the agenda for the next few weeks, I will also appeal to them so that Andrej Babiš stays in politics. There are relatively few real personalities in Czech politics, even though there are many people who consider themselves personalities,” added Zeman.
Zeman opened the office last week. In it, he plans to give interviews to the media once a week or to meet with people who request a meeting. He said he would be happy to meet anyone who asked, but he didn't want to invite anyone on his own initiative. According to him, it depends on the representatives of other political parties than only the ANO movement, whether the meetings will take place with them. According to him, the same rules would also apply in the case of his successor in the presidency, Petr Pavel. “Exactly the same rules apply to him as to anyone else,” he noted.
If anyone is interested in meeting the former president, they can contact the Friends of Miloš Zeman association, which pays for his office, according to him. His team will also soon create an email to request a meeting.
The appearance of the office or the fact that it does not have barrier-free access have sparked discussions on social networks in recent days. “Some journalists are rather snobbish and thought that I would be surrounded by luxury à la Madame Pompadour, but the Friends of Miloš Zeman association does not have any large funds, it basically lives on member contributions,” said the ex-president. According to him, the premises are therefore modest, but suitable for his needs. The stairs, which must be climbed after entering the house, help him overcome the bodyguards.
The end of Zeman's presidency was affected by an illness, due to which he had to be cared for by nurses at the castle in Lány. They will also take care of him in the new house in Lán. Zeman noted that health care is paid to a certain extent by the insurance company. “And I will adapt to her possibilities,” he said.
When asked about his health, he replied that with aging comes common ailments. “One option is to become a hypochondriac and constantly complain about these ailments, while it is an interesting topic for conversation only for the hypochondriac. The other option is to ignore the ailments, after a while the body will be offended that no one is paying attention to it, and the pain will stop, ” he pointed out.