PRAGUE (AP) — The new Czech minority government led by populist billionaire Andrej Babis resigned on Wednesday after it failed to win a mandatory confidence vote in Parliament last week.
Babis submitted the resignation to President Milos Zeman on Wednesday.
Zeman, Babi's ally, accepted it and immediately asked Babis to try to form a new government again. He said he will swear him in as prime minister as soon as in February if he fails to get re-elected as president.
Any new government has to win a parliamentary confidence vote to rule.
Babis' centrist ANO (YES) movement won October's parliamentary election with 78 seats in the 200-seat lower house. But no other parliamentary party agreed to create a majority coalition government with ANO because they consider Babis unsuitable due to fraud charges linked to EU subsidies he faces.
Babis, who has already acknowledged the next government might not include him, has started a new round of talks with eight other parties that have parliamentary seats.
So far, the Communist Party has suggested it might be willing to tolerate a new ANO government. If that happens, it would be the first time that the Communists would get back to power at least indirectly since the 1989 anti-Communist Velvet Revolution.
But Babis would need more partners to secure a parliamentary majority.
"We will negotiate intensively and hopefully they will take us seriously," Babis said.
Zeman faces scientist Jiri Drahos in a presidential runoff vote over the weekend. Drahos said he would have a problem appointing as prime minister facing fraud charges.
Zeman's term in office expires on March 8.