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Czech PM Will Talk Exclusively to Social Democrats on New Government

Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis attends a parliament session in Prague, Czech Republic, Jan. 19, 2018.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Thursday he would hold talks only with the Social Democratic party (CSSD) as he seeks to form a new coalition government with support in parliament.

Babis’ ANO party cruised to a major victory in an election last October, but has not persuaded any other party to either join a coalition or support its minority government, which lost a confidence vote in January.

Most parties are shunning ANO, mainly because of a criminal charge brought against Babis over an alleged fraud of European Union subsidies worth 2 million euros a decade ago. He denies any wrongdoing.

After another round of talks with parties on Thurday, Babis said he would now limit the negotiations to CSSD.

“We agreed that we will now talk exclusively with CSSD, until April 10,” Babis said at a news conference.

“We are negotiating a minority government of ANO and CSSD, with the support of the Communist party, based on program. Other parties can support us too, that is up to them,” he said.

If ANO’s 78 lawmakers were allied with 15 from CSSD in parliament, the support of 15 additional Communist votes would give the government a majority in the 200-strong lower chamber.

ANO will not hold more talks with the far-right, anti-EU SPD party of Czech-Japanese businessman Tomio Okamura, Babis said.

The possibility of support from the SPD had raised concern among opposition parties and from some in ANO.