Czech cabinet backs referendum bill against Czexit

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Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis arrives at a news conference at government headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic, March 26, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s minority government approved a proposed bill on national referendums on Tuesday, setting a high ceiling on holding votes and excluding international agreements to safeguard against potential Czexit calls.

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The conditions in the government-backed proposal are tougher than other ideas floated – especially those of the anti-European Union, far-right SPD party – as Babis’s ANO party has sought to prevent any EU referendum in the largely eurosceptic nation.

After losing a confidence vote in January, Babis has been scrambling to gain support for his continued rule. His caretaker cabinet backed on Tuesday a proposal from potential coalition partners the Social Democrats.

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Under the law, at least 850,000 signatures would be needed to call any national referendum and for any measure to gain approval it would need support of more than a half of eligible voters in the country, Babis said on Twitter.

The bill will now head to parliament.

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