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Czech Social Democrats and ultra-nationalists want President's nominee for ombudsman, Christian Democrats question its legality

22.1.2020 14:06
Czech Deputy Ombud Stanislav Křeček (PHOTO: David Sedlecký. Wikimedia Commons)
Czech Deputy Ombud Stanislav Křeček (PHOTO: David Sedlecký. Wikimedia Commons)

The Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) have doubts about Czech President Zeman's change of candidate for the ombudsman position. As the vote in the lower house on the next ombudsman was being prepared, the President withdrew his nomination of Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Helena Válková and instead nominated former Deputy Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček for the post.

KDU-ČSL chair Marek Výborný has told journalists that his party has doubts about the lawfulness of that step and apparently will be discussing it in the Chamber of Deputies. Křeček can count on support from the Social Democrats and the ultra-nationalist "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) movement in the lower house.

According to Výborný, the KDU-ČSL will apparently support the current representative of the Czech Republic before the European Court of Human Rights, Vít Alexandr Schorm. The Pirates will also back Schorm during the voting in mid-February.

The Communists have not yet chosen a favorite candidate. The governing Association of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO) invited the candidates to address the party on 11 February.

"We will listen to their ideas and opinions and decide which candidate to support, if any," said Czech MP Jaroslav Faltýnek, head of the ANO faction in the lower house. KDU-ČSL MPs heard from Schorm yesterday at their club, according to the chair, as well as from another candidate, the attorney Jan Matys.

The Social Democrats, according to the head of that club in the lower house, Czech MP Jan Chvojka, will proceed according to the recommendations of their party leaders. "We have a recommendation from the chair, Jan Hamáček, and the interim vice-chair, Roman Onderka, to choose Stanislav Křeček in mid-February that week," Chvojka said at a press conference.

Tomio Okamura, chair of the SPD, said his movement will vote for Křeček, and not just because of his experience as Deputy Public Defender of Rights. "His criticism of the current ombudswoman corresponds to the program of the SPD and to our opinions," Okamura said.

The SPD chair believes the President's nominee was correct to criticize the fact that outgoing ombudswoman Anna Šabatová backed the right of a Muslim student to wear her headscarf in class, for example. In association with the upcoming vote in the Chamber of Deputies on the next Public Defender of Rights, the Tricolor movement has proposed a bill to abolish the Office of the Public Defender of Rights and not replace it.

According to the leader of that movement, Václav Klaus, Jr, the Public Defender of Rights is an example of state expansion and unnecessary bureaucracy. The other parties are not espousing the bill from the Tricolor movement, which has just two MPs in the Chamber of Deputies.

According to TOP 09, the Tricolor bill is about gaining publicity for that movement, while the Christian Democrats believe it is necessary that a top-drawer person advocate for the role, given such proposals. Even the SPD is in favor of preserving the Office of the Public Defender of Rights.

According to Okamura, many "common, desperate citizens" are being defended by the ombudswoman's office. "That is the only instance still advocating for the citizen," he said in response to the Tricolor bill.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Czech Christian Democrats, ČSSD, Ombudsman, Sněmovna



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