Sat, 23 Oct 2021

Czech party seeks referendum on leaving EU

Robert Besser
26 Sep 2021, 17:01 GMT+10

PRAGUE, Czech Republic: The right-of-center Czech party, the SPD, which could be part of a new Czech government next month, is demanding the cabinet propose legislation that could lead to a referendum to leave the European Union (EU), its leader Tomio Okamura said on Wednesday.

The populist pro-EU ANO party, led by Prime Minister Andrej Babis, is likely to win the largest share of the vote during the election on 8th and 9th October, but as its current partners are polling at or below the 5 percent threshold to enter parliament, the party might be unable to form a majority government.

As two major opposition groups are refusing to enter government with Babis, the founder of a business empire, due to what they claim are his conflicts of interest, Okamura's anti-European and anti-NATO SPD, or the Freedom and Direct Democracy, could enter talks with ANO.

Opinion polls place the party's support at some 10 percent.

Okamura stressed that his price is a promise to propose a law on holding referendums, which could allow a citizens' petition to propose a vote, enabling his party to potentially organize a referendum.

After meeting President Milos Zeman, Okamura told reporters, "One of the fundamental conditions is for the government manifesto to include a referendum law, which will lead to a referendum on leaving the EU or potentially NATO," as quoted by Reuters.

Although a July opinion poll by the CVVM news agency showed 66 percent of Czechs support EU membership, against 28 percent saying the country should leave, the SDP, for many years, has proposed the Czech Republic should leave the EU and hold an EU exit referendum.

The Babis government has opposed a general referendum law, and any proposed legislation on referendums would need a three-fifth majority in both houses of parliament to pass.

The Czech Senate is elected under a first-past-the-post system staggered over six years, which usually prevents the election of extreme candidates.

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