Prague, Czech Republic – The political saga continues, as Czech President Milos Zeman refuses to accept the resignation of embattled Culture Minister Antonín Staněk.
President Zeman refuses Culture Minister Staněk’s resignation
According to the press release (in Czech) issued by presidential spokesman Jiří Ovčáček, the Czech Republic’s head of state received the Culture Minister at the Prague Castle on Monday to inform him that he wouldn’t accept his decision to step down.
According to the statement, Milos Zeman believes that Antonín Staněk shouldn’t be punished and forced to resign for revealing financial and budgetary mismanagement in cultural institutions. Zeman is known for having repeatedly clashed with the head of Prague’s National Gallery in the past.
Talking to Radio Prague, Jan Kysela, expert on constitutional law, remarked: “The manner in which Staněk resigned was most unusual in that he made it clear that his hand had been forced and he thus prepared the ground for the president’s decision. And as for President Zeman, he likes to show that he is the key player on the Czech political scene”.
Culture Minister Staněk under pressure from Czech cultural scene
Two weeks ago, Antonin Staněk announced he would resign from his post as Culture Minister by the end of the month.
His decision came amid public outcry after M. Staněk, a member of the ruling coalition’s junior partner Social Democratic Party (CSSD), fired the heads of two prominent Czech cultural institutions in April: Jiří Fajt, director of Prague’s National Gallery, and Michal Soukup, the head of the Museum of Art of Olomouc, in Moravia.
While M. Staněk cited the results of an internal audit that revealed budgetary irregularities in both institutions to explain his decision, critics claimed the sackings lacked any tangible motives and that his decision was baseless and politically motivated.
The Czech cultural sector, with the support of prominent foreign cultural figures, opposed the decision and urged the Culture Minister to resign. Their call was echoed by Social Democratic leader Jan Hamáček who has now asked, following the presidential veto, Prime Minister Andrej Babis to outright dismiss M. Staněk.