Law and governance
Due to high energy prices, inflation and a decline in living standards, the Czech Republic is clearly not expecting an easy year. The Czech cabinet of Petr Fiala is this year faced with the demanding task of ensuring social peace while taking some unpopular steps to curb the huge public finances deficit, Lubomír Kopeček, a political analyst from the SYRI National Institute, said. The task is difficult due to the high price of energy, soaring inflation and a decline in living standards. An important event in Czechia will be the presidential election, the first round of which is due on January 13-14, Kopeček wrote.
From the presidential election on, the cabinet will have a certain "scope of opportunities" until spring 2024, when the European elections will be held. In the period between, the cabinet will not face the pressure of any other election and will enjoy more freedom in this respect, Kopeček wrote.
"This is an opportunity for it to push through some reforms to change the dangerous trend in public finances. Nevertheless, a search for consensus in the government coalition will not be easy due to the high number of government parties and differences between them," he said.
As for pension reform, for example, the government should reach agreement with the opposition to prevent a repetition of the situation in the 2010s, when pension reform was introduced by the cabinet of Petr Nečas (ODS) and to a large extent abolished by the very next cabinet, of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, ČSSD), Kopeček said.
The situation may also be influenced by the new president. "If he [the new president] were the opposition ANO leader Andrej Babiš, who favours anti-government rhetoric, coexistence [with him] would be difficult for the current cabinet, and it would complicate its efforts to push through its agenda," Kopeček wrote.
He said the president may veto the bills the cabinet has pushed through parliament or obstruct or block the appointment of new ministers, as was repeatedly the case under Zeman.
"However, if the government coalition remains united and ready to apply means of pressure such as the constitutional complaint over the division of powers in appointing ministers, the president is in a weaker position," Kopeček wrote.
He wrote he expects a rise in debate about Czech aid to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees. "The initial strong pro-Ukraine stand on the part of a majority of Czechs is in gradual decline, not least because of the fatigue of war and of the economic situation. In this respect, the cabinet may face a more disagreement [of people] than in 2022," Kopeček added.