Czechia

   

Quality of Democracy

#23
Key Findings
With criticism over the current prime minister’s past and present conduct dividing society, Czechia falls into the middle ranks (rank 23) in terms of democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

Media mogul and Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has been accused of corruption, and has been sued for conflict of interest due to maintaining effective control over his dominant share of the media landscape. A vibrant new online and independent investigative-journalism sector has been sparked largely by journalists leaving Babiš-owned publications.

Campaign-financing regulations have been significantly strengthened, with the first campaign scrutinized producing only minor infractions. Civil and political rights are generally respected, with large-scale protests having emerged under the Babiš government. Discrimination against women and Roma remains problematic.

Executive actions are typically predictable, although legal ambiguities sometimes cause controversy. The courts are generally independent. Corruption remains widespread generally, but little has been done to address the issue effectively.

Electoral Processes

#19

How fair are procedures for registering candidates and parties?

10
 9

Legal regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections; candidates and parties are not discriminated against.
 8
 7
 6


A few restrictions on election procedures discriminate against a small number of candidates and parties.
 5
 4
 3


Some unreasonable restrictions on election procedures exist that discriminate against many candidates and parties.
 2
 1

Discriminating registration procedures for elections are widespread and prevent a large number of potential candidates or parties from participating.
Candidacy Procedures
10
Electoral registration procedures are fair and transparent. To establish a political party, three citizens aged 18 or over need to submit the new party’s statutes to authorities, backed by 1,000 signatures. The 1991 law on political parties and movements establishes conditions to exclude parties lacking democratically elected organs or that aim to remove the democratic foundations of the state, restrict the freedoms of other parties, or threaten morality and public order. There are occasional calls to ban the Communist party, but no legal steps have been taken and there is no consensus that such measures are necessary. As of November 2018, there were 232 active political parties and political movements. In the 2018 municipal elections, 82% of the 216,501 candidates had no party affiliation (mostly independents, but also non-partisans running on party lists). Since 2012, the president of Czechia has been elected by citizens in a direct election. Any citizen with the right to vote who has reached 40 years of age is eligible to run for election for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.

To what extent do candidates and parties have fair access to the media and other means of communication?

10
 9

All candidates and parties have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. All major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of the range of different political positions.
 8
 7
 6


Candidates and parties have largely equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. The major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of different political positions.
 5
 4
 3


Candidates and parties often do not have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. While the major media outlets represent a partisan political bias, the media system as a whole provides fair coverage of different political positions.
 2
 1

Candidates and parties lack equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communications. The major media outlets are biased in favor of certain political groups or views and discriminate against others.
Media Access
6
The electoral law guarantees parties access to state radio and television, with a total of 14 hours set aside for all parties to express their views with equal allocation irrespective of the party’s size or previous electoral performance. Thus, all parties do have access to the public media, although presentations are often tedious and unlikely to hold viewers’ and listeners’ attention. Space is also provided by municipalities for billboards, and political advertisements are carried in newspapers. There is a distinct coverage bias toward the larger parties, due to more significant resources and a perception of importance. Moreover, coverage by private media is less balanced than that of public media. The 2018 presidential elections included televised debates. A final debate on the state TV had the highest rating of all four debates (2.6 million viewers) and statements by the candidates were fact-checked in real time. In October 2018, the Council for Radio and TV broadcasting gave a positive evaluation of debates held on the private broadcaster Prima televize and state TV, but was critical of TV Barrandov for exercising favoritism toward President Zeman, the incumbent. The Council issued a warning to TV Barrandov that any repetition of such activity would result in a high fine. The Czech Syndicate of Journalists, a professional organization, criticized both the TV Nova and TV Barrandov debates as biased in favor of the incumbent.

To what extent do all citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right of participation in national elections?

10
 9

All adult citizens can participate in national elections. All eligible voters are registered if they wish to be. There are no discriminations observable in the exercise of the right to vote. There are no disincentives to voting.
 8
 7
 6


The procedures for the registration of voters and voting are for the most part effective, impartial and nondiscriminatory. Citizens can appeal to courts if they feel being discriminated. Disincentives to voting generally do not constitute genuine obstacles.
 5
 4
 3


While the procedures for the registration of voters and voting are de jure non-discriminatory, isolated cases of discrimination occur in practice. For some citizens, disincentives to voting constitute significant obstacles.
 2
 1

The procedures for the registration of voters or voting have systemic discriminatory effects. De facto, a substantial number of adult citizens are excluded from national elections.
Voting and Registration Rights
9
All adult citizens, including convicted prisoners, can participate in national elections, and voter registration is relatively straightforward. EU citizens who are permanent residents of Czechia can participate in municipal and European elections. As of 2018, EU citizens who are temporary residents of Czechia can also participate in municipal elections. However, while special provisions for a mobile ballot box facilitate voting for the disabled and seriously ill, there is no general ability to vote by mail. Czech citizens residing abroad can vote at Czech embassies and consulates. For them, participation in elections is complicated by having to meet a special deadline for registration and the fact that there are only a limited number of embassies and consulates. No cases of vote-buying were reported in the 2018 municipal, Senate or presidential elections.

To what extent is private and public party financing and electoral campaign financing transparent, effectively monitored and in case of infringement of rules subject to proportionate and dissuasive sanction?

10
 9

The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring to that respect. Effective measures to prevent evasion are effectively in place and infringements subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
 8
 7
 6


The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring. Although infringements are subject to proportionate sanctions, some, although few, loopholes and options for circumvention still exist.
 5
 4
 3


The state provides that donations to political parties shall be published. Party financing is subject to some degree of independent monitoring but monitoring either proves regularly ineffective or proportionate sanctions in case of infringement do not follow.
 2
 1

The rules for party and campaign financing do not effectively enforce the obligation to make the donations public. Party and campaign financing is neither monitored independently nor, in case of infringements, subject to proportionate sanctions.
Party Financing
7
The rules for party and campaign financing and their enforcement have been a major political issue for some time. In April 2015, the Ministry of Interior eventually submitted an amendment to the law on political parties to parliament. The proposal was based on the Group of States against Corruption of the Council of Europe (GRECO) recommendations to Czechia issued in 2011 and came into force in January 2017. The law introduced financial limits for party financing and electoral campaigns, the mandatory establishment of transparent accounts, and greater revenue regulation of political parties and movements. President Zeman named the first president of the new Office for the Oversight of the Political Parties and Political Movements (Úřad pro dohled nad hospodařením politických stran a politických hnutí, ÚHHPSH), an independent regulatory authority for monitoring and oversight of party and campaign finance. The first campaign scrutinized by the ÚHHPSH was the October 2017 parliamentary elections; its first annual report (for 2017) was published in 2018. The report found 123 cases of misdemeanors, most of them of minor importance. The ÚHHPSH imposed 26 administrative penalties totaling CZK 181,000 (€7,000). Fines were set below the statutory rates because of the novelty of the provisions and their “educational function.” In March 2018, investigative journalists unearthed that Okamura’s radical-right Party of Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) had violated the law by the illegal use of an online shop and compulsory purchases of party merchandise by party members.

Do citizens have the opportunity to take binding political decisions when they want to do so?

10
 9

Citizens have the effective opportunity to actively propose and take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through popular initiatives and referendums. The set of eligible issues is extensive, and includes national, regional, and local issues.
 8
 7
 6


Citizens have the effective opportunity to take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through either popular initiatives or referendums. The set of eligible issues covers at least two levels of government.
 5
 4
 3


Citizens have the effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure. The set of eligible issues is limited to one level of government.
 2
 1

Citizens have no effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure.
Popular Decision-Making
5
In Czechia, there is no legal framework for referendums at the national level. On the municipal and regional level, referendums exist and are held on issues such as mining, the construction of nuclear fuel/waste plants, stricter regulations on lotteries and gaming, and the use of public space and municipal property. Initially, a minimum participation of at least 25% of registered voters was stipulated (298/1992 Col.), which was later increased to 50% (22/2004 Col.) and finally was settled at 35% of registered voters (169/2008 Col.) being required to ensure the validity of a referendum. In the period under review, no regional referendum took place, but there were 13 local referendums. The introduction of referendums at the national level was an important issue in the 2017 election campaign and is likely to remain on the political agenda. It is advocated most clearly by Okamura’s radical-right Party of Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and by the Communists, who set it as a condition for their silent support for the Babiš government, with ANO also indicating support. Other parties have some reservations concerning how far results should be binding and whether a referendum should also cover membership in international bodies (EU and NATO). Disputes over details mean that no proposal for the necessary constitutional amendment has as yet been presented.

Access to Information

#15

To what extent are the media independent from government?

10
 9

Public and private media are independent from government influence; their independence is institutionally protected and fully respected by the incumbent government.
 8
 7
 6


The incumbent government largely respects the independence of media. However, there are occasional attempts to exert influence.
 5
 4
 3


The incumbent government seeks to ensure its political objectives indirectly by influencing the personnel policies, organizational framework or financial resources of public media, and/or the licensing regime/market access for private media.
 2
 1

Major media outlets are frequently influenced by the incumbent government promoting its partisan political objectives. To ensure pro-government media reporting, governmental actors exert direct political pressure and violate existing rules of media regulation or change them to benefit their interests.
Media Freedom
6
Czechia has traditionally been characterized by a high degree of media freedom, partly because of the independence of public media but also because prevalent foreign ownership did not exercise any visible influence over the content and coverage of private media. The capture of much of the Czech media market by Andrej Babiš, and the use of that media power to support his political position and denigrate that of any alternatives, has further stimulated the development of online media, supported by subscription and crowdsourcing. Many established journalists including investigative and award-winning journalists left Babiš’s MAFRA group and other dailies to start online media and blended media (online and monthly print). This ensures the continuation of some degree of media independence, but the viability of such projects is contingent on the trust of the readers and viable business model (online adds, or strong backer). Following action by Transparency International, a court action was started against Babiš in November 2018 for conflict of interest by maintaining effective control over of his business, despite their nominal transfer to a trust.

Citations:
Jirák, J., B. Köpplová (2018): Vorzüge und Probleme eines liberal-demokratischen Medienmodells: Medien und Politik in der Tschechischen Republik, in: A. Lorenz, H. Formánková (Hrsg.), Das politische System Tschechiens. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 245-265.

To what extent are the media characterized by an ownership structure that ensures a pluralism of opinions?

10
 9

Diversified ownership structures characterize both the electronic and print media market, providing a well-balanced pluralism of opinions. Effective anti-monopoly policies and impartial, open public media guarantee a pluralism of opinions.
 8
 7
 6


Diversified ownership structures prevail in the electronic and print media market. Public media compensate for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by representing a wider range of opinions.
 5
 4
 3


Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize either the electronic or the print media market. Important opinions are represented but there are no or only weak institutional guarantees against the predominance of certain opinions.
 2
 1

Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize both the electronic and the print media market. Few companies dominate the media, most programs are biased, and there is evidence that certain opinions are not published or are marginalized.
Media Pluralism
7
The private media market in Czechia has changed significantly in recent years. The most critical tendencies are the concentration of media ownership, the departure of several international owners and the broadening of the scope of media holdings (print, online, radio and television).

The rise of Andrej Babiš to power transformed the media landscape – both on the journalistic side (supply) and the readers (demand). Babiš’s businesses dominate the daily print media, with an estimated 2.4 million readers, and also the online media, with an estimated 3.4 million daily users. However, readership of independent weekly publications and a number of new journalistic projects has grown. On October 28, 2018 (centenary of the establishment of Czechia) and following the example of the Slovak Denik N (Journal N), a new daily (which will be available in print in 2019) was created using the Slovak know-how and combining investor- and crowd-sourced funding. Key journalists and staff own 23.5% of the shares. Most of the staff are experienced journalists, who left the MAFRA owned media. The crowd-funding campaign raised CZK 7 million (€270,000) and 5,500 digital subscribers. To ensure independent operation and a long-term viability, 25,000 regular subscribers are needed. Among the online media 2018 also brought the launch of Seznam TV, a major internet platform and email provider ventured into online media content including investigative journalism. During the first six months of its existence, the investigative journalists of Seznam TV found irregularities in party finance, lobbying and in November 2018 revealed potentially damning evidence on corruption in Babiš’s business activities.

Citations:
Cichowlas, O., A. Foxall (2015): Now the Czechs have an oligarch problem, too, in: Foreign Policy.com (http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/10/now-the-czechs-have-an-oligarch-problem-too-andrej-babiš/).

To what extent can citizens obtain official information?

10
 9

Legal regulations guarantee free and easy access to official information, contain few, reasonable restrictions, and there are effective mechanisms of appeal and oversight enabling citizens to access information.
 8
 7
 6


Access to official information is regulated by law. Most restrictions are justified, but access is sometimes complicated by bureaucratic procedures. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms permit citizens to enforce their right of access.
 5
 4
 3


Access to official information is partially regulated by law, but complicated by bureaucratic procedures and some poorly justified restrictions. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms are often ineffective.
 2
 1

Access to official information is not regulated by law; there are many restrictions of access, bureaucratic procedures and no or ineffective mechanisms of enforcement.
Access to Government Information
8
The Czech constitution and the 1999 Law on Free Access to Information, substantially amended in 2006, provide for extensive access to government information. Public bodies have gradually learned what can and cannot be kept secret. Most ministries and larger public bodies now include a special section with information provided upon request. The overall transparency improved significantly.

However, there are still difficulties in access within many municipalities, mainly due to their lack of capacity. Still, municipalities can also be taken to court if officials refuse to respond to requests for information. Some smaller municipalities have faced stiff financial penalties following a failure to disclose information as requested. As a result, the actions of municipalities are becoming more transparent, through streaming municipal board meetings online and allowing citizens to participate in municipal activities in other interactive ways.

An increasing number of NGO initiatives support better access to public administration information and the public’s right to accessing it. These initiatives, together with the pro-active approach of the ombudsman’s office, have contributed to an improvement in the quality of online portals for public administration and thus have further improved access to government information. One example of important new initiatives is the “Right to Information” program started in 2017 by the NGO Open Society (Otevrena Spolecnost) and co-funded by the Ministry of Interior. It has praised some public offices for openness and criticized, among others, the Chamber of Deputies and the Office of the President. Under the Babiš government, the request for information on the distribution of EU funds and public contracts has increased as a result of the concerted effort by civil society and the opposition, especially the Pirate Party.

Civil Rights and Political Liberties

#19

To what extent does the state respect and protect civil rights and how effectively are citizens protected by courts against infringements of their rights?

10
 9

All state institutions respect and effectively protect civil rights. Citizens are effectively protected by courts against infringements of their rights. Infringements present an extreme exception.
 8
 7
 6


The state respects and protects rights, with few infringements. Courts provide protection.
 5
 4
 3


Despite formal protection, frequent infringements of civil rights occur and court protection often proves ineffective.
 2
 1

State institutions respect civil rights only formally, and civil rights are frequently violated. Court protection is not effective.
Civil Rights
7
The government and administration of Czechia respect and protect its citizens’ basic civil rights. As complaints lodged with the European Court of Human Rights and the Office of the Public Defender of Rights (ombudsman) have indicated, the main problem is the length of legal proceedings. The relatively high number of complaints compared to other East-Central European countries shows that Czech citizens are increasingly aware of their civil rights and have the financial, cultural and social resources to pursue these rights.

To what extent does the state concede and protect political liberties?

10
 9

All state institutions concede and effectively protect political liberties.
 8
 7
 6


All state institutions for the most part concede and protect political liberties. There are only few infringements.
 5
 4
 3


State institutions concede political liberties but infringements occur regularly in practice.
 2
 1

Political liberties are unsatisfactory codified and frequently violated.
Political Liberties
9
Political liberties are respected by state institutions, and their observance is supervised by the courts. The presidential elections and the investiture of the Babiš government triggered large-scale protests, not seen in the country since the financial crisis. Protests are mostly concentrated in Prague and other larger cities and mostly attract young and educated citizens. Social media (Facebook) play an important role in mobilizing and enabling the organization of protests. Along with civil society, the mobilizing capacity of extreme right groups has also increased but protests remain small and localized, expressing opposition to an alleged threat of Islamization, against the presence of ethnic minorities, immigration, gender equality and LGBT and reproductive rights. Police have intervened when journalists and members of ethnic minorities have suffered physical attack. Civil society protests, happenings and demonstrations significantly outnumber the events by of uncivil society.

How effectively does the state protect against different forms of discrimination?

10
 9

State institutions effectively protect against and actively prevent discrimination. Cases of discrimination are extremely rare.
 8
 7
 6


State anti-discrimination protections are moderately successful. Few cases of discrimination are observed.
 5
 4
 3


State anti-discrimination efforts show limited success. Many cases of discrimination can be observed.
 2
 1

The state does not offer effective protection against discrimination. Discrimination is widespread in the public sector and in society.
Non-discrimination
6
The Czech legal system guarantees equality of access to work, education and social services before the law. The implementation of EU directives has underpinned such guarantees.

Compared to other developed countries, however, gender discrimination remains relatively high. Differences in average wages of women and men are still around 22%, which is one of the highest rates in the EU regarding this indicator. The representation of women in politics at the national level has not changed significantly; in the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament, only 22% are women. Women’s representation in decision-making positions remains low, as well as in government, business, justice and diplomacy. With women accounting for 9% of public and private leadership positions, Czechia remains at par with both global and European averages. The World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Czechia 82th out of 149 countries due primarily to challenges facing women in the areas of economic participation and political empowerment (ranking 87th in these two categories). In fall 2018, the ratification of the Istanbul Agreement was vocally opposed by conservative circles and the Catholic church. The critics presented the Istanbul agreement and anti-discrimination charter of the Council of Europe (which entered in force in 2014, but which Czechia along with several other CEE countries and the UK has not ratified yet) as a “diffusion of gender ideology and a threat to traditional gender roles.”

The discrimination against Roma remains another grave issue. The ratio of Roma pupils in so-called special schools that serve individuals with learning disabilities is about 25%, significantly higher than the actual proportion of Roma living in Czechia. Such tracking means that many Roma children have a reduced chance of moving on to higher education and better work opportunities. As low-income Roma families have moved out of cities into rural areas in response to rising housing prices, territorial segregation has increased. The governmental response included a plan to move 6,000 low-income (mainly Roma) families from temporary housing into permanent housing by 2020: implementation has yet to begin. The discrimination of the Roma in some segments of society is echoed by several prominent politicians and their parties. In 2017 this was the case of Okamura’s party of Direct Democracy and his 2018 statements included the denial of holocaust against the Czech Roma minority in Lety Concentration Camp during World War II. President Miloš Zeman has a long track record of anti-Roma statements, attacking them as welfare parasites. An off-the-cuff remark in October 2018 provoked criticism by the media and the opposition. In a social media campaign that went viral, members of the Roma community posted pictures from their workplace on social media entitled “Mr. President, I work.”

Citations:
World Economic Forum (2018): The Global Gender Gap Report 2017. Geneva (https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-gender-gap-report-2018).

Rule of Law

#19

To what extent do government and administration act on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions to provide legal certainty?

10
 9

Government and administration act predictably, on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions. Legal regulations are consistent and transparent, ensuring legal certainty.
 8
 7
 6


Government and administration rarely make unpredictable decisions. Legal regulations are consistent, but leave a large scope of discretion to the government or administration.
 5
 4
 3


Government and administration sometimes make unpredictable decisions that go beyond given legal bases or do not conform to existing legal regulations. Some legal regulations are inconsistent and contradictory.
 2
 1

Government and administration often make unpredictable decisions that lack a legal basis or ignore existing legal regulations. Legal regulations are inconsistent, full of loopholes and contradict each other.
Legal Certainty
8
Executive actions are predictable and undertaken in accordance with the law. Problems arise because of the incompleteness or ambiguity of some laws with general declarations, notably the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, requiring backing from detailed specific laws. However, points are gradually being clarified as case law builds up on freedom of information and general discrimination. Government bodies then learn to comply with established practices.

To what extent do independent courts control whether government and administration act in conformity with the law?

10
 9

Independent courts effectively review executive action and ensure that the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 8
 7
 6


Independent courts usually manage to control whether the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 5
 4
 3


Courts are independent, but often fail to ensure legal compliance.
 2
 1

Courts are biased for or against the incumbent government and lack effective control.
Judicial Review
8
Czech courts operate independently of the executive branch of government. The most active control over executive actions is exercised by the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Administrative Court. In the period under study, no major controversial cases were decided by the Constitutional Court. The Supreme Administrative Court rejected several minor complaints regarding the Senate and municipal elections. Some included minor administrative mishaps others, for example, by Andrej Babiš’s ANO, questioned the number of invalid votes in the first round of 2018 Senate elections in one electoral district (Rokycany). The Court rejected the ANO complaint as well as the other six complaints and confirmed the validity of the elections.

Citations:
Pospíšil, I. (2018): Ein aktivistisches Verfassungsgericht als Korrektiv der Politik: Struktur, Besetzung und Rechtsprechung, in: A. Lorenz, H. Formánková (Hrsg.), Das politische System Tschechiens. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 131-152.

To what extent does the process of appointing (supreme or constitutional court) justices guarantee the independence of the judiciary?

10
 9

Justices are appointed in a cooperative appointment process with special majority requirements.
 8
 7
 6


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies with special majority requirements or in a cooperative selection process without special majority requirements.
 5
 4
 3


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies without special majority requirements.
 2
 1

All judges are appointed exclusively by a single body irrespective of other institutions.
Appointment of Justices
8
The justices of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court are appointed by the Senate, the second chamber of the Czech parliament, on the basis of proposals made by the president. Within the Senate, no special majority requirement applies. The process of appointing judges is transparent and adequately covered by public media. The involvement of both the president and the Senate increases the likelihood of balance in judges’ political views and other characteristics. President Zeman’s proposals have continued to be uncontroversial.

To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?

10
 9

Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 8
 7
 6


Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
 5
 4
 3


Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 2
 1

Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
Corruption Prevention
5
In Czechia, corruption has remained widespread. Subsequent governments have emphasized their commitment to fight corruption but have done little to adequately address the issue. Two significant changes were implemented in 2017: amendments to the law on party finance and law on conflict of interest. Despite this apparent progress, the merging of business, political and media power in the hands of Prime Minister Babiš represents an escalation of past corruption to a new level. The most public controversy concerns the use of EU funds, intended for SME support, to finance a business temporarily separated from his conglomerate which was then returned to his control after the subsidy had been received. It emerged that nominal ownership had only been transferred to his family members, but police investigations reached no clear conclusions. A key barrier was that adult children, the temporary owners, were reportedly unfit to face a court owing to psychiatric problems. In November 2018 journalists from the relatively new online channel Seznam TV published an interview with Andrej Babiš’s son Andrej Babiš jr who reported that he was willing to be interviewed by police but had been kidnapped by people working for his father and taken to Crimea from which he later escaped. Subsequently, Babiš gave a press conference denouncing the media on an “attempted coup” and informing the public that both of his adult children are mentally ill. Despite demands from the opposition for his resignation and public demonstrations in Prague and other cities, he was emboldened by the sympathetic treatment he received from the media outlets he controlled and thus remained in power, thanks to continuing support from Social Democrat coalition partners who feared that he would survive by creating a new coalition with Okamura’s party. Further problems await him through action precipitated by Transparency International that challenge his control over media companies while an active politician, and by a possible action from the European Commission following a reported opinion that all subsidies for his businesses should be returned in view of conflict of interest as he was both a government minister and effectively a business owner, despite nominally putting ownership of his businesses into a trust fund.
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