Czech ANO party says may get finance ministry in new government

Reuters

PRAGUE, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Czech centrist party ANO, whichsurged in polls to second place in an October election, willlikely nominate the next finance minister as part of an expectedcoalition deal with the leftist Social Democrats, party leaderssaid on Saturday.

The agreement will give the anti-corruption movement ANO,founded by billionaire businessman Andrej Babis in 2011, abigger say over the budget, spending and borrowing and may temper many of the Social Democrats' plans.

Babis did not put forward a name for the finance ministerjob after holding talks with Social Democrat leader BohuslavSobotka. Media have reported the party could turn toRaiffeisenbank economist Ales Michl, its top economic adviser.

"Social Democrats have accepted today, that ANO will get theFinance Ministry, if an agreement on a coalition government isreached," Babis told journalists after the meeting.

The Social Democrats will put forward the new speaker of thelower house of Parliament as part of the deal. This positionenables its holder for example to take part in governmentcreation.

The two parties are looking to form a coalition along withthe Christian Democrats but have clashed mainly over taxation.

The Social Democrats want a higher corporate rate,especially for big banks, utilities and telecoms companies.However, ANO has opposed tax increases and wants to focus oncutting government fat.

The two leaders said they had reached an agreement on taxpolicy but Sobotka said they would only release details oncethey agree with the Christian Democrats at talks starting onMonday. Sobotka wants to present a government led by him by theend of the year.

The Social Democrats eked out only a slim victory in theCzech election on Oct. 25-26, dashing the party's hopes ofcreating a minority cabinet supported by the Communist party,which took third place in the vote.

Seven parties won seats in the election, the most in twodecades. ANO had wanted to stay out of government but itssurprise strong showing at the poll forced it into a kingmakerrole.

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