Czech government faces no-confidence vote over energy prices

FILE - Czech Republic's Prime Minister Petr Fiala pauses before speaking as he addresses a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, on July 19, 2022. The Czech Republics coalition government was facing Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022 a parliamentary no-confidence vote over its handling the energy crisis and a scandal involving the head of one of the countrys spy agencies. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File) (Virginia Mayo, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

PRAGUE – The Czech Republic’s coalition government on Thursday faced a parliamentary no-confidence vote over its handling of the energy crisis and a scandal involving the head of one of the country’s spy agencies.

The opposition accused the coalition of not doing enough to help people and businesses cope with the high prices for electricity and natural gas.

The government argues it has introduced a plan to support the households by some 15,000 Czech crowns ($611) on average in the coming winter and was working on further steps to ease the financial pressure.

The government was also planning to call an emergency meeting of other European Union countries next week to seek a united approach to the issue. The Czech Republic currently holds the bloc's rotating presidency.

In a separate issue, the opposition has demanded the resignation of Petr Mlejnek, the head of the Office for Foreign Relations and Information, due to his contacts with a businessman who has been facing corruption charges.

Mlejnek has denied wrongdoing but resigned from his post on Wednesday. Opposition lawmakers are demanding the replacement of Interior Minister Vit Rakusan, who appointed Mlejnek and has backed him.

The opposition parties, including the centrist ANO movement led by former populist Prime Minister Andrej Babis and the anti-migrant Freedom and Direct Democracy party, are unlikely to oust the five-party coalition government which has a comfortable majority in the lower house of Parliament.