Czech Health Minister, Human Rights Minister and Labor Minister may step down - PM and President meeting today to decide
Three ministers are likely to be dismissed from the Government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, the chair of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD): Czech Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Minister Jiří Dienstbier, and Labor and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová-Tominová. Online news servers Deník Referendum and Neovlivni.cz were the first to break the news.
In a letter sent to his fellow party members on Friday, Sobotka announced that he wants to meet with all seven ministers nominated for the party and sum up their performance to date. Some of the ministers, according to the PM, are fatigued and need to be replaced.
"The Prime Minister will gradually speak with them all about this. Apparently he's taking it worse than those who are being dismissed," a very reliable source close to the Social Democratic leadership told news server Neovlini.cz
"The choice came down to removing Dienstbier, Marksová and Němeček as the weak links in the party's marketing," the source said. According to Deník Referendum, most observers assess Sobotka's move as a natural reaction to the party's loss of the Regional and Senate elections.
"Next spring, moreover, the Social Democratic convention will be held, where Sobotka will defend his chairmanship. At this moment he doesn't have a challenger, but this dismissal of ministers can also be interpreted as an attempt to calm and satisfy various intra-party factions and to stabilize his position at the head of the party prior to the parliamentary elections," Deník Referendum reports.
Sobotka will meet with Czech President Miloš Zeman at the presidential residence of Lany today about the changes in Government. Zeman did not want comment on the possible removal of some of the Social Democratic ministers prior to the meeting.
On Sunday, however, the President said he believed Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman, a Christian Democrat, should leave the Government - Zeman has clashed with Herman over the latter's meeting with the Dalai Lama and has refused to award state honors to Holocaust survivor Jiří Brady, who is Herman's uncle. Herman said his continuing in the cabinet depended on decisions by Sobotka and the chair of the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL), Pavel Bělobrádek.
Sobotka has called for his coalition partners to take similar steps with their ministers. However, Andrej Babiš, who is First Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy as well as Finance Minister, and who chairs the ANO movement, and Bělobrádek, who is Deputy Prime Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, stated previously that they see no reason to replace the ministers now representing their parties in Government.
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