President Vaclav Klaus has rejected a proposed new government put forward by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Mr. Klaus expressed reservations both with regard to the set up of the three party cabinet and the fact that the prime minister did not have any guarantees that it could win a confidence vote in the lower house. The president said that he was looking for a stable solution which would bring the country out of a protracted government crisis. He said Mr. Topolanek should seek broader support for his government.
Following tough negotiations Prime Minister Topolanek on Thursday finally put together an alliance of his rightwing Civic Democrats (ODS), Christian Democrats and Greens, but to win a parliamentary vote of confidence the cabinet would need the backing of one or more opposition members. The fact that the June general elections produced an even division of forces between left and right parties in the lower house is at the heart of the country's political problems.
Following his meeting with the president, Prime Minister Topolanek expressed the hope that Mr. Klaus would eventually put aside his reservations and appoint the centre right cabinet. Mr. Topolanek said the agreed on coalition government was the best way out of the crisis as it would bring about badly needed reforms in public spending, health care and the pension system. The president is under no time limit to appoint the government but political analysts say he may be bound by the Constitution to eventually accept the three party cabinet.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek said his party was willing to discuss conditions under which it would be prepared to tolerate a centre right cabinet. He said that President Klaus had brought the rival Civic Democratic Party down to earth with a bump, but that this would have happened anyway during a confidence vote in Parliament. Mr. Paroubek said that while from a constitutional angle the president's decision to reject the proposed government was controversial, he understood the practical reasons that had led him to make this decision.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer told Thursday's edition of the daily Pravo the planned abolition of the ministry's financial police unit does not contradict EU interests or violate the country's commitments. Mr. Langer was reacting to criticism from Czech MEP Jana Hybaskova who said the decision was a bad one and would go against an EU directive combating money laundering. Within the Interior Ministry's streamlining and cost-cutting measures members of the financial police are to be transferred to other police units next year.
Police chief Vladislav Husak has been caught speeding for the second time this year, prompting calls for his resignation. Although it is actually Mr. Husak's personal driver who has repeatedly violated traffic regulations it is the police chief who is being held responsible. When it happened the first time round in July, shortly after a strict new road law went into effect, the police chief promised to suspend his own driver's license for three months and said he would donate ten thousand crowns to charity to make up for it. On this occasion, when his driver failed to stop at a railway crossing, whizzing through at 180 km per hour, Mr. Husak claimed to have been fast asleep at the time. The interior minister has been unavailable for comment but a number of senior politicians have said Mr. Husak should be fired.
The next few days are expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius.
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