Czech coalition parties sought to avoid a snap election on Wednesday and find a way to steer the country toward a scheduled vote in October after Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s shock resignation. Sobotka announced on Tuesday that he and his government would step down, less than six months before its term finishes, to resolve a long-running dispute with billionaire Finance Minister Andrej Babis, his main political rival. The Social Democrat leader, whose party trails Babis’s centrist ANO movement by a double-digit margin in polls, justified the risky and drastic step by saying that simply firing Babis would have turned him into a ‘martyr’.
Sobotka is due to hand in his resignation on Thursday to President Milos Zeman, who will have a range of options after that. A spokesman for Sobotka said the resignation of the full cabinet would take effect in mid-May.
Zeman could reject the resignation, or leave the current cabinet governing until the election despite it, or name a new cabinet with a prime minister of his choice.
The last two options might meet Sobotka’s main objective of deposing Babis from the Finance Ministry as his tax issues are being investigated, but they could also cost him his own job.