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Czech Social Dems Cede Agriculture Post to Wrap Up Cabinet Talks

The Czech Social Democratic Party, which is leading coalition talks to form a new government, offered the Christian Democrats three cabinet posts including the Agriculture Ministry.

The Social Democrats ceded to the Christian Democrats’ demand for the post in an effort to wrap up negotiations in the coming days, party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said in an interview on state TV. The other two posts are for the Culture Ministry and Minister Without Portfolio, he said.

“This is our last offer,” Sobotka said. “We think it’s very generous and we hope to reach an agreement soon.”

A new Czech government to emerge from almost two months of talks needs to end policy paralysis that ensued after the previous cabinet collapsed in June amid a scandal over illegal spying and graft charges. The three potential coalition partners pledged to keep the budget deficit below the European Union’s limit of 3 percent of economic output, leaving an open option for a special tax for selected businesses, such as banks, if savings aren’t enough.

Christian Democratic Chairman Pavel Belobradek said Sobotka’s latest offer is still inadequate and he will need to discuss it with his party tonight. The possibility of a minority government comprising the Social Democrats and ANO remains on the table, he said.

If the offer is accepted, the Social Democrats will hold eight posts, the ANO party of billionaire Andrej Babis will have seven post and the Christian Democrats will take over three. The parties together hold 111 votes in the 200-seat parliament.

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