Czech lawmakers interrupt marathon debate over government confidence

Czech lower house lawmakers suspended a marathon session to vote on a confidence motion in the new centre-right government on Thursday as opposition forces dragged the debate to 22 hours before seeking an interruption.

The new five-party ruling coalition won a combined 108 seats in the 200-member lower chamber, making it certain to win the confidence vote called after it took office last month.

The customary vote has a history of being dragged out as opposition parties use the debate to attack new administrations.

Former prime minister Andrej Babis, a billionaire businessman-turned-politician, and his ANO party led the attack against Prime Minister Petr Fiala's new administration in this session, which began on Wednesday morning.

Lawmakers had yet to vote on the confidence motion early Thursday before the leader of far-right SPD - the lower house's other opposition party - sought a break.

The lower house is due to continue its session on the confidence vote at 6 p.m. (1700 GMT) on Wednesday.

Fiala's government is taking over the central European country amid a fresh rise in coronavirus cases, an inflation spike, a record fiscal gap and challenges from Europe's green transition.

It has set out to rewrite the 2022 state budget to cut 80 billion crowns ($3.75 billion) from the deficit, seeking to bring it below 300 billion crowns.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Michael Perry)


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