PRAGUE Nov 23 Czech centrist party ANO, which
surged in polls to second place in an October election, will
likely nominate the next finance minister as part of an expected
coalition deal with the leftist Social Democrats, party leaders
said on Saturday.
The agreement will give the anti-corruption movement ANO,
founded by billionaire businessman Andrej Babis in 2011, a
bigger say over the budget, spending and borrowing and may
temper many of the Social Democrats' plans.
Babis did not put forward a name for the finance minister
job after holding talks with Social Democrat leader Bohuslav
Sobotka. Media have reported the party could turn to
Raiffeisenbank economist Ales Michl, its top economic adviser.
"Social Democrats have accepted today, that ANO will get the
Finance Ministry, if an agreement on a coalition government is
reached," Babis told journalists after the meeting.
The Social Democrats will put forward the new speaker of the
lower house of Parliament as part of the deal. This position
enables its holder for example to take part in government
The two parties are looking to form a coalition along with
the Christian Democrats but have clashed mainly over taxation.
The Social Democrats want a higher corporate rate,
especially for big banks, utilities and telecoms companies.
However, ANO has opposed tax increases and wants to focus on
cutting government fat.
The two leaders said they had reached an agreement on tax
policy but Sobotka said they would only release details once
they agree with the Christian Democrats at talks starting on
Monday. Sobotka wants to present a government led by him by the
end of the year.
The Social Democrats eked out only a slim victory in the
Czech election on Oct. 25-26, dashing the party's hopes of
creating a minority cabinet supported by the Communist party,
which took third place in the vote.
Seven parties won seats in the election, the most in two
decades. ANO had wanted to stay out of government but its
surprise strong showing at the poll forced it into a kingmaker