Czech election winner Fiala to be appointed PM on Nov 26

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PRAGUE (Reuters) -Czech President Milos Zeman will appoint centre-right opposition leader Petr Fiala as the new prime minister on Nov. 26 following last month’s election, Fiala said after meeting the president on Wednesday.

The Together group led by Fiala and a coalition of the progressive Pirate Party and the centrist Mayors won a parliamentary majority in the Oct 8-9 vote and pledged to replace the outgoing government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

The new administration will take power amid a renewed surge in Czech coronavirus infections, which on Tuesday hit an all-time daily high of over 22,000.

Babis said on Wednesday the government would bar non-vaccinated people from access to public events and services from next week.

Fiala, 57, a political science professor and leader of the centre-right Civic Democrats since 2014, said his team would reveal its own proposals to fight the pandemic.

A spokesman for Zeman, who has been in hospital since Oct. 10, said the president expected to be discharged soon and confirmed the Nov. 26 date.

Fiala told reporters he expected the full cabinet to be appointed within three weeks.

He said the new team would cut the 2022 budget deficit, currently projected at 377 billion crowns ($16.91 billion), which would put the public sector gap at around 4.4% of gross domestic product (GDP).

“The budget is unacceptable, it would just accelerate the inflation spiral. We have to rework it,” Fiala said.

Fiala said his party colleague Zbynek Stanjura would take over the finance ministry, while the Pirate Party nominated Jan Lipavsky, known for his tough stance on Russia, as foreign minister.

The incoming government has pledged to raise defence spending to NATO’s recommendation of 2% of GDP and cut deficits to meet euro adoption criteria. It has not committed to any concrete steps on euro adoption.

Photo – Petr Fiala (C), the leader of Civic Party (ODS) and Together’s (SPOLU) coalition candidate for prime minister. EPA-EFE/STRINGER

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