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President Klaus is in the process of meeting with the leaders of all five parliamentary parties during the course of Thursday and Friday to try to resolve the post-election stalemate. The president scheduled Thursday's meetings with the leaders from the three smaller parties, the Greens, Christian Democrats, and the Communists. It is the first time in the history of an independent Czech Republic that a president has officially met with the chairman of the Communist Party.

Since June's inconclusive general elections, which gave the right and left block 100 seats each in the lower house, the leaders of the two biggest parties - the centre right Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats - have been arguing over what kind of coalition government should be formed.

The leader of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek has refused to support a centre right coalition and earlier this week he gave a lukewarm response to an offer to join the three parties in a rainbow coalition. Mr. Paroubek said he preferred to discuss other alternatives such as a grand coalition or a minority Civic Democrat government with tacit support from the Social Democrats. Former Social Democratic prime minister Milos Zeman has also voiced support for the idea of a caretaker government. These scenarios are not preferred by Civic Democratic Party leader Mirek Topolanek, whose party won the elections but lacks a majority in parliament.

It is not clear whether the lower house will make another attempt to elect a new leadership on Friday. The Social Democrats have refused to put forward a candidate for the post of speaker and it seems there may not be anyone in the running.