Czech coalition government survives no-confidence vote

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PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech coalition government led by populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis survived on Thursday a no-confidence vote in Parliament over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Five opposition parties also requested the vote as prosecutors are looking into whether to indict Babis over alleged fraud involving EU funds in a separate case and a recently published European Union report concluded that Babis has a conflict of interest over EU subsidies involving his former business empire.

Babis denies any wrongdoing.

Only 89 of the opposition lawmakers voted late Thursday at the end of an almost 14-hour session to oust the Cabinet, well short of the 101 needed in the 200-seat lower house.

Babis’ centrist ANO (YES) movement is in a minority government with the leftist Social Democrats. It has recently lost its support from the Communist Party.

But the Communists refused to vote against the government, left the lower house and didn’t participate in the debate and the vote.

The Czech Republic has been one of the hardest-hit European countries by the pandemic. The nation of 10.7 million people had almost 1.7 million confirmed cases with over 30,000 deaths. The falling numbers of new cases recently has made it possible for the government to relax its coronavirus restrictions.

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