Czech Republic: Lawmakers hope to strip hospitalized president of powers to end deadlock

Lawmakers in the Czech Republic are looking to strip President Miloš Zeman of his powers, after his hospitalization left the country in limbo.

Zeman is “very unlikely” to return to work in the coming weeks, Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil said on Monday.

The president was admitted into intensive care more than a week ago after a dramatic election saw a majority of voters reject the country’s populist prime minister Andrej Babiš. Two opposition coalitions now have enough seats in parliament to form a government.

One of the president’s main constitutional roles is to select the next prime minister to form a government, so Zeman’s hospitalization has left the Czech republic in a political deadlock.

Article 66 of the Czech Constitution, a provision that allows the president to be stripped of their powers if both chambers of parliament decide that the head of state cannot, for some serious reasons, carry out their duties of office.

The Senate President said at a press conference on Monday that he had received an update from the hospital, and that Zeman is “currently unable to perform any work duties due to health reasons.”

“According to the hospital, considering the nature of the illness, the long-term prognosis is assessed as extremely uncertain and thus the possibility of returning to the performing his duties in the coming weeks is assessed as very unlikely,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there is no other option than to consider, that we have to discuss when and how to activate the Article 66 of the Constitution.”

The 77-year-old Zeman has been suffering from a range of health problems in recent years, but his doctor Miroslav Zavoral has said only that he was suffering from “complications from the illnesses for which he has been receiving treatments.”

Zeman was hospitalized just a day after voters appeared to have rejected Babiš’ ruling ANO party on October 9.

Babiš’s ANO party was edged out by the narrowest of margins by the two opposition coalitions.

The new parliament will take their seats on November 8.