Czech Republic 2014
Czech Republic. In January, three parties agreed to form a new government. The Social Democrats, the populist movement ANO (Disgruntled citizens’ action) and the Christian Democrats had then negotiated for over two months after the parliamentary elections.
According to Countryaah.com, Czech Republic population in 2020 is estimated at 10,708,992. The new coalition would stop the cuts planned by the previous center-right government. At the same time, the Social Democrats promised not to raise taxes, a remission to the ANO leader and well-heeled entrepreneur Andrej Babis. Pensions and minimum wages would be raised, a more positive attitude to the EU announced and measures to combat corruption promised.
Social Democrat Bohuslav Sobotka would lead the new coalition, despite his party falling behind in the election. President Miloš Zeman tried to stop Sobotka but bowed and said yes.
The opposition criticized the appointment of Andrei Babis as finance minister, saying that he, as owner of hundreds of companies, should not be given control over tax policy. However, the government and its political programs were approved in Parliament in February.
The crisis in Ukraine created conflict in the Czech government. Following the Russian annexation of Crimea, i.e. Minister of Defense stop Russian tenders on the expansion of the Temelin nuclear power plant. Sobotka was of a different opinion, but President Zeman proposed a new round of bidding with players from more countries than just the US and the Russian Federation.
Declining coal prices prompted a private investor to plan the closure of a large coal mine, which also created conflict within the coalition. Sobotka wanted to avoid a social crisis in the region, where up to 8,000 jobs were threatened, but ANO and Finance Minister Babis rejected the idea of state funds to save the mine.
The government tried to curb EU sanctions on Moscow, while President Zeman advocated harsh sanctions and could also envisage NATO troops to Ukraine. NATO Secretary General urged the Czech Republic to move from years of defense cuts to increased defense funding, as the Russian military increased its spending. Sobotka promised to put a stop to the defense’s cuts, but saw no opportunity for increased funding. NATO requests defense appropriations of 2% of GDP, while the Czech Republic uses about 1%.
In the European elections in May, three EU-friendly parties became the largest since the Ukraine crisis gained room in the electoral movement. ANO won before the opposition party TOP 09 and the Social Democrats, and the three parties got four seats were from the Czech Republic’s 21. The turnout was record low, 18.2%.
In July, Parliament approved a reduction in the petrol tax, and then amended the decision when the finance minister outraged that the government could not be without these incomes. The goal was to keep the budget deficit below 3%.
In August, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Slovakia signed a letter of intent for cooperation on Swedish Gripenplan. The Czech Republic, which uses Gripen, and Slovakia shall jointly monitor their airspace, and Sweden shall provide technical expertise.
In September, the Czech Republic tried to curb tightened EU sanctions against Moscow, which had Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. Sobotka saw an escalation of the sanctions at risk and questioned its effectiveness. He called for changes that would do the least possible harm to the Czech Republic and its interests.
In the October general election, the Senate, in October, Sobotka’s ruling Social Democrats resigned.