PRAGUE (AP) — Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis signed a power-sharing deal with the far-left Communist Party on Tuesday in a move that will give the maverick party a role in governing for the first time since the country's 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution.
The agreement is meant to ensure the Communist Party's support for the coalition government led by Babis in a key, mandatory confidence vote in the lower house of Parliament on Wednesday.
All governments must win such a vote to stay in power.
The government of Babis' centrist ANO (YES) movement and the leftist Social Democrats that was sworn in on June 27 doesn't have a majority in the house and needs the Communists' support to survive.
The cooperation with the Communists is a controversial issue that recently prompted thousands of Czechs to rally against it.
Unlike most other communist parties in central Europe that have joined the left-wing mainstream in recent decades, the Czech party has maintained a hardline stance.
It is vehemently opposed to NATO and has friendly ties with the ruling communists in Cuba, China and North Korea. The Communists also oppose the deployment of Czech troops abroad, particularly to the Baltics and Poland as part of NATO's mission amid the tension between Russia and the West.
The Communists insist Russia poses no threat.
To win their support, Babis agreed with their demand to tax the compensation that the country's churches receive for property seized by the former Communist regime.
The Communist Party is a vocal opponent of the payment.