The acting leader of the Social Democratic Party, Stanislav Gross, has
said he aims to discuss support for a new government with all
parliamentary factions, including the Communist Party. Following talks
within the Social Democrat leadership on Saturday Mr Gross said he would
address the head of the Communist Party, Mr Grebenicek, over the long
weekend; Monday and Tuesday are Czech holidays.
34-year-old Mr Gross, who was asked on Friday by the president to begin talks, still says, however, he will give priority to forming a new government along outgoing coalition lines - with the exception of the Freedom Union not sitting in the cabinet but tacitly supporting a minority government from the opposition.
Talks are continuing; negotiations, however, will not be easy.
Already it is clear Mr Gross cannot expect support from the Czech Republic's largest opposition party, the Civic Democrats, following a statement by their party leader Miroslav Topolanek on Friday.
The head of the Christian Democratic Party, Miroslav Kalousek,
meanwhile, reacted to Mr Gross' announcement on Saturday by saying the
Christian Democrats would not sit in any cabinet relying on tacit
Communist Party support. However, he did say Mr Gross' intention to
meet with Communist leader Miroslav Grebenicek was legitimate. He added
he had not registered any signs Mr Gross was truly aiming for a
solution with the Communist Party. It is apparent the Christian
Democrats will tolerate not even so much as one communist MP vote.
Deliberations on forming a new government are expected to take some days and weeks, though Mr Kalousek refused to speculate on a final date. He said the quality of the new government took precedence.
The 39th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival gets underway on Friday evening. During the opening ceremony the American acting great Harvey Keitel will receive an award for his outstanding contribution to world cinema. The festival attracts many thousands of mostly young people to the west Bohemian spa town and continues until July 10.
President Vaclav Klaus has asked the acting leader of the Social
Democrats, Stanislav Gross, to begin talks on forming a new government. Mr
Gross is hoping to build a coalition with the same two centre-right
parties who were in government with the Social Democrats under his
predecessor Vladimir Spidla; he resigned last weekend in the wake of poor
results in elections to the European Parliament.
However, Mr Gross must find at least one extra vote to secure a majority in the Chamber of Deputies before the president will appoint him prime minister. The previous coalition had a majority of one in the 200-seat lower house, but one MP from the smallest party, the Freedom Union, has joined the opposition and another has announced he is going to follow suit.
In the meantime, a former member of the opposition Civic Democrats has allied himself with the Freedom Union.
Newspaper reports on Friday suggested that Mr Gross, who is 34, would try to win the support of MPs from the opposition benches in order to gain a majority.
Speaking to journalists on Friday, President Klaus said the new government should offer more than just the replacement of a few faces. He said the Czech people were expecting them to deliver change.
After the Czech Republic were beaten 1:0 by Greece in the semi-finals
of football's European Championships on Thursday, Czech striker Milan
Baros said finishing as top scorer would be no consolation for being
knocked out of the competition. Baros looks set to receive the Golden
Boot award after scoring five goals at Euro 2004.
Meanwhile, Czech manager Karel Bruckner said his players had gained credit around Europe for their style of play. Incidentally, in a strange twist of fate, the Czechs are due to play Greece again in a friendly in Prague next month.
Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla officially tenders his resignation as prime minister and leader of the Social Democrats at the cabinet session on Wednesday evening, which will also see the entire cabinet resign. Speaking to journalists, Mr Spidla said he would send his written resignation to President Vaclav Klaus on Thursday morning. Mr Spidla decided to step down from both posts after he narrowly survived a vote of no confidence in him as party leader just weeks after his party's dramatic defeat by the Eurosceptic opposition in the European Parliament elections earlier this month. Although he said he would stay active on the Czech political scene, he refused to comment on speculation that he could be the next speaker of parliament or succeed European Commissioner Pavel Telicka in Brussels in the autumn.
President Klaus on Thursday will begin talks with the leaders of the Social Democratic Party (the biggest party in parliament), the Christian Democratic Party (the junior ruling coalition partner), and the senior opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats. After a round of talks, Mr Klaus will most likely name acting Social Democrat leader Stanislav Gross prime minister-designate. A day before the talks, President Vaclav Klaus reiterated he would not appoint a government backed by the Communists. In an interview for the Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes he also said he believed it would not be possible to form a government from the three ruling coalition parties due to weak support in parliament. President Klaus is the former leader of the opposition Civic Democrats, who won most seats to the European Parliament and are pushing for early national parliamentary elections.
The President's office confirmed on Wednesday that outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla will temporarily take over control of the Justice Ministry. At the beginning of the week, Mr Spidla sent a letter to President Klaus informing him about the "urgent need to ensure the post of Justice Minister" following the resignation of the entire government. Although the current government will continue to administer the country until a new government is named, the post of Justice Minister is empty as no one had been appointed to succeed Karel Cermak who resigned from the post earlier in June.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament has agreed to send some 100 soldiers to Greece to be part of the security force at the Olympic Games in Athens. If the plan is approved by the Senate, the soldiers specialised in anti-biological and chemical warfare would stay in Greece from July 28 to September 30 at a total cost of 30.3 million Czech crowns (some one million Euros), to be covered by the Czech Republic, Greece, and NATO. To help optimize security during the Olympic Games this summer a Czech anti-chemical unit helped train 48 Greek soldiers in June.
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