This represented a direct about-face from a vote of no-confidence in mid-August by ANO Prague municipal representatives and the party’s local Prague office. The reprieve came by way of a joint declaration by ANO leader and deputy PM Andrej Babiš and Krnáčová. However the mayor was criticised for poor communications both inside the party and in relation to the media. She promised to improve.
“We discussed our Prague policies, and the problems and affairs which have erupted since the Prague coalition came into existence. The talks were very direct and hectic, but it was good that we were able to talk openly. It is clear that there were clear shortcomings with regards to communications,” said Babiš.
According to the ANO leader, party members agreed to implement new communications tools for the mayor. However, Babiš declined to go into details: “The mayor herself admitted that she must try to improve communications. I have a good feeling about this decision, and I promised that I will devoted greater attention to Prague politics. I left our meeting satisfied.”
Babiš also explained his belief that a major sore point over the smooth functioning of the ANO, Social Democrat and “Three-Party” coalition at City Hall is deputy mayor Matěj Stropnický (Green). “We are planning to hold another meeting over strategy and we must return to the core problem within the coalition – and that is Mr. Stropnický,” said Babiš.
Krnáčová also affirmed the positive tone of the meetings. “I heard criticism directed in my direction, which I believe was partly justified, and partly not. We must continue to work together; from my side, I must improve my communications, which is the subject of criticism I have been hearing both from the Prague party reps. and in the media. I will try to fix that. I hope that further cooperation proves successful,” said the mayor.
Michal Hašek, chairman of ANO’s Prague representatives club, said that this faction was now united, and that “many tasks which we have set for ourselves now await us. Many votes also await us and we will have to be united in those, and all this will be discussed in future talks.”
For several weeks, there has been talk of major infighting within Prague’s ANO party, which emerged victorious in the city following last year’s local elections. This led to speculation that mayor Krnáčová could be replaced with her deputy Eva Kislingerová.
Last Tuesday, ANO’s coalition partners – and also the opposition – reacted to the reports of infighting. The coalition Social Democrats urged the members of ANO to explain themselves. According to the opposition TOP 09, the no-confidence vote was a logical step because: “the mayor is embarrassing both the city and her party.” According to Filip Humplík, the leader of Prague’s opposition Civic Democrats, ANO is instilling chaos in the city leadership. “They should have stuck to [the campaigning activity of] handing out donuts and hot dogs,” he said.