Czech president swears in opposition leader as new premier

Czech president swears in opposition leader as new premier
Czech President Milos Zeman (right), in a transparent cube because he tested positive for Covid-19, appoints ODS leader Petr Fiala as prime minister (Roman Vondrous/CTK/AP)

The Czech president has sworn in Petr Fiala as the country’s new prime minister following last month’s parliamentary election.

Milos Zeman, in a wheelchair, was separated from Mr Fiala and other officials by a cube of transparent panels during the ceremony at the presidential chateau in Lany, west of Prague. The president tested positive for coronavirus last week and must isolate.

Mr Zeman wished Mr Fiala “success”.

Following the vote on October 8-9, a three-party, liberal-conservative coalition known as Together, comprised of the Civic Democratic Party, Christian Democrats and the Top 09 party, led with a 27.8% share of the vote.

Together teamed up with a centre-left liberal coalition made up of the Pirate Party and Stan – a group of mayors and independent candidates – which came in third place with 15.6% of the votes.

Czech President Milos Zeman was separated from Petr Fiala and other officials after testing positive for Covid-19 (Roman Vondrous/CTK/AP)

The new partnership will hold 108 seats in the 200-seat lower house of Parliament, relegating populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis and his centrist ANO (Yes) movement to the opposition.

The five parties in the future governing coalition have agreed on a power-sharing deal. They are closer to the European Union than Eurosceptic Mr Babis.

Mr Fiala, 57, who has led the conservative Civic Democratic Party since 2014, is a professor of political sciences. He previously served as education minister from 2012-13.

It was not immediately clear when Mr Zeman might appoint the Cabinet. He said he will meet ministerial candidates between Monday and December 13 to discuss their future jobs.

Mr Zeman, 77, was only discharged from the capital’s military hospital on Saturday following more than a month’s treatment for an unspecified illness and a couple of days of concern after he tested positive for Covid-19. The ceremony had originally been due to take place on Friday.

He was rushed to hospital on October 10, a day after the election for the lower house of parliament, and was treated in an intensive care unit. His condition was attributed to an unspecified chronic disease.

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