Czech Government Survives No-Confidence Vote in Parliament

PRAGUE (AP) -- The Czech coalition government has survived a parliamentary no-confidence vote over opposition claims of incompetence.

Only the 81 opposition lawmakers in the 200-seat lower house of Parliament voted to dismiss the five-party government led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala, which has a majority. The vote took place at around midnight Wednesday after a debate that started on Tuesday and took some 25 hours.

The main opposition centrist ANO movement led by populist billionaire Andrej Babis accused the government of not doing enough to help people cope with soaring inflation driven by high energy prices and of refusing to communicate with the opposition on its plans, among other issues.

The government dismissed the accusations and questioned the timing of the vote, before the second round of the presidential election.

Babis, a former prime minister, advanced on Saturday to a runoff presidential vote against retired army Gen. Petr Pavel.

Babis has been trying to present Pavel as a government candidate. The coalition endorsed three presidential candidates before the first round, including Pavel, but they all ran as independents and the coalition didn't campaign for any of them.

The runoff for the largely ceremonial post is scheduled for Jan. 27-28.