“No, it obviously won’t happen before the holidays,” answered the Austrian when asked by Novinek whether he would try to get the House of Representatives to discuss the correspondence election before the holidays.
Already in February, he told journalists at a press conference that the law remains a priority for the STAN movement. “Together with our parliamentary club, we sent a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives to include it in the discussion,” he emphasized.
When he was asked by Novinek when, according to him, the correspondence election could be discussed, he answered: “If it was the beginning of March, it would only be good.”
Sleeping bags in the House of Representatives again? A long-distance election clash awaits
At the same time, he was aware that he would not just pass the lower chamber. Both opposition movements are threatening long obstructions.
“Correspondence election is contrary to the Constitution, according to which the election to the House of Representatives and the Senate is secret. The way the Senate proposes a postal election does not guarantee secrecy, because voters with a ballot can be identified,” SPD head Tomio Okamura, for example, repeatedly commented. His movement even created a petition against this choice.
The YES movement explains it similarly. “The choice should be free on an individual basis, which can only become a physical choice behind the curtain. It is also supposed to be anonymous, secret, which in turn becomes throwing a ticket into the ballot box. And it should also be dignified, that is, that I devote some time to it – I go somewhere and vote,” said MP Patrik Nacher (for ANO) repeatedly.
At the same time, both movements are aware that they have low support among Czechs abroad. For example, in the last parliamentary elections of the party of the current government coalition, 85 percent of compatriots abroad voted, while ANO received only less than five percent of the vote and SPD 2.2 percent of the vote.
They choose the obstructions at the deck
If the coalition tried to discuss the law in the House of Representatives before the holidays, there would be a risk that the MPs would be debating for several nights again.
But that is apparently what awaits them even when approving the consolidation package and pension reform, which the government wants to bring to the House of Representatives in mid-June. Even with those, the opposition threatens obstruction. Most recently, in early March, deputies spent almost five days discussing the controversial government proposal to reduce the valuation of pensions.
“I am afraid that due to the obstruction of the consolidation package announced by the opposition or the conflict of interests, the discussion of the law will not realistically happen,” Josef Cogan, head of the parliamentary club of the STAN movement, told Novinkám.
“There is a lot of pressure for a legislative shift in a number of other things, especially the recovery package and changes in the valuation of pensions,” confirmed the Austrian. Representatives of other government parties speak similarly. “By the holidays, I have a clear priority to discuss the government’s budget package in the first reading. Anything else that can be achieved will be a nice bonus,” wrote the chairman of the ODS deputies, Marek Benda, to the editors.
The head of the House of Representatives, Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09), also agreed with him. At the same time, she added that “they will try to put the law on the agenda as soon as possible”.
Vondráček: The government wants to use correspondence votes to influence the election for the Castle
Will there be “extraordinaries” in the fall?
The only optimist so far is the head of the People’s Club, Marek Výborný, who told Novinkám that they would like to discuss the electoral laws in the first reading before the holidays. “We are discussing this with the Austrian minister,” he said.
Apparently, even the Austrian does not believe that it will succeed. “I want to present the law this year,” he changed his ambitions.
Cogan admitted that the law could be discussed in the form of extraordinary meetings in the fall. He uses those coalitions when he wants to “deprive” the opposition of the possibility of obstructing the agenda of the meeting, which is clear in the case of extraordinary meetings.
The government of Petr Fiala (ODS) set the introduction of postal elections for Czechs abroad as one of the goals in its program statement. “We will introduce a correspondence option for Czechs abroad. We will make it easier for voters to obtain voter cards and modernize the administration of elections,” it says.
The MPs originally wanted to have time to discuss it before the presidential elections, which were held in January 2023. But it is possible that they will not have time to bring the law into force even before the elections to the European Parliament, which will be held next spring.
According to the current rules, Czechs abroad can only vote at embassies, which is time- and financially expensive for many people. Thanks to the postal option, they could vote by post. According to the senators proposing the change to the law, up to 600,000 Czechs could benefit from it.
The Senate already approved the standard in October 2021. The Czech Republic is one of the last five EU countries that do not have this option.
Okamura paralyzed the House. Because of the correspondence option
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