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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.

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.

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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