It’s campaign time
If you follow our Digest and Twitter regularly, you probably know we have been quite doubtful about the prospects of the coalition of Christian Democrats and Mayors from the very beginning.
When they broke up in July, we revelled in a short I-told-you-so moment. But gloating aside, Grayling is looking forward to fair competition among democratic parties. So, on the bright side, at least one of those parties is now almost sure to be in Parliament and, since there is no 10% threshold anymore, the danger of too many votes being wasted will be avoided. The Christian Democrats have managed to fill the vacant spots on their lists and the Mayors have brought in fresh and familiar faces to politics, including the billionaire Dalibor Dědek, who made his fortune as the owner of Jablotron. Dědek immediately became the most famous face on the candidate list and opined that a coalition with Andrej Babiš was not inconceivable. Which brings us to the second important issue of the summer.
The general public is once again learning about Article 260 of the Criminal Code. A simple five-point paragraph, describing what is known as “Harming the financial interests of the European Union”. This time, it’s not David Rath, Central Bohemia’s former regional governor, but Andrej Babiš himself who may be facing fraud charges. The police have reached a point in the investigation where they have decided to ask the Chamber of Deputies to remove Babiš’s parliamentary immunity so he can be prosecuted.
More important will be the impact of this event on Babiš’s ability to form a coalition. There are certain things that even smaller parties offering coalition potential won’t tolerate. A prime minister charged with a serious offence is probably one of them. It has already been rumoured that Babiš could stay out of an executive position in order for the ANO Movement to be able to form a government. But if there’s one thing this country doesn’t need, it’s a government run from some summer retreat, or, even worse, Agrofert headquarters, while a puppet leader is installed at the Office of the Government.
Let’s hope we all survive the remaining 64 days that separate us from the election weekend.
Contracts register – a long and painful story
One of the most controversial and lengthy legislation processes is finally over – on 1 August 2017, the President finally signed an Amendment to the Contracts Register Act. The original proposal having been submitted at the beginning of 2016, during the legislation process MPs submitted 32 amendments – most of which introduced further exceptions to the Act. According to the Register, public institutions (whether central or local government institutions or from larger municipalities) must publish their contracts exceeding EUR 2 000 online.
Up to mid-2017, there was no penalty for non-compliance, but from the beginning of July any non-disclosed contract is void. The final version of the Act – albeit a last-minute compromise between MPs approved on the margins of parliamentary proceedings – is a sound compromise between a blind call for transparency and actual knowledge of complex procurement models, such as health care.
First beacon of light in Czech eHealth?
There has been a lot of idle talk over the past few years on the state of Czech eHealth, and we have seen hardly anything tangible. Fortunately, now that a new Minister for Health has been appointed, we have been a shift in the agenda. Following the adoption of the eHealth Action Plan in spring 2017, the State Institute for Drug Control is to introduce electronic prescriptions. The new system will be tested in the coming months and should be mandatory from the beginning of 2018.
Although data from the ePrescription system is sure to be invaluable, some parties – including the Czech Medical Chamber and the Czech Chamber of Pharmacists – still seem to be having a problem with this obligation.
New PA tool from the Chamber of Commerce
The Czech Chamber of Commerce is planning to implement a Legal Electronic System for Entrepreneurs (LESE) at the beginning of 2018, which should provide a comprehensive overview of Czech legislation affecting specific businesses. Courtesy of this system, entrepreneurs and big corporations will have easier access to relevant laws, which will be interpreted in depth for them. It should also save them a lot of money that they would otherwise spend on advocates and legal advice. Although the Czech Chamber of Commerce is highly optimistic about this project, there has been some wrangling in both the public and private sector. According to public administration bodies, the LESE partly overlaps with the Electronic System of Laws of the Ministry of the Interior, planned for the beginning of 2020. Another obstacle could be the concentration of sensitive information, which would all lie in the hands of a single entity, thus creating a monopoly of information.
Grayling Political Digest, February 2018
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