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22-12-2006

President says he will appoint centre-right government

President Klaus has said that he would eventually appoint the centre-right cabinet proposed by Prime Minister Topolanek, despite his reservations to it. Mr. Klaus on Thursday rejected a proposed three party coalition made up of the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Greens. He expressed reservations both with regard to the cabinet set up 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's spokesman Petr Hajek said on Friday that the president was bound by the Constitution to appoint the government presented by the prime minister but he felt he had a right to express his opinion on the matter.

Prime minister ready to make some changes in proposed cabinet

Meanwhile, in response to the president's rejection, the executive leadership of the Civic Democratic Party held emergency consultations on Friday, after which the prime minister indicated that he was ready to make some personnel changes in the proposed cabinet. He said he would discuss the matter with the Christian Democrats and the Green Party. President Klaus indicated that he was not happy with the choice of foreign minister, a post that was to go to senator Karel Schwarzenberg. All three parties of the proposed government have now expressed readiness to hold talks with Mr. Klaus in order to clear up any doubts regarding the candidates for individual ministerial posts.

Future of centre right cabinet still uncertain

Although the president has promised to appoint the proposed cabinet it is still not clear whether it could win a confidence vote in the lower house. The right wing parties have just 100 seats in the 200-seat lower house and the new government would thus need to secure support from at least one opposition deputy. The Civic Democratic Party has indicated that it hopes to gain support from what it calls "constructive" opposition deputies who would be prepared to tolerate or support a centre right cabinet in order to bring the drawn out crisis to an end. 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.

Jiri Paroubek says he's willing to discuss support for new government

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.

President signs state budget for 2007

President Klaus on Friday signed into law the state budget for 2007. The projected deficit is 91.3 billion crowns, which may reach some 4 percent of GDP and falls short of any reforms needed to prepare for the adoption of the euro currency. The government has already said it would postpone the adoption, originally planned for 2010, to an unspecified later date. The debate over next year's state budget was overshadowed by the country's ongoing political crisis.

Paroubek angered by state attorney's decision

Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has criticized the state attorney's decision not to prosecute Jan Kubice, head of the organized crime squad, in connection with the leak of a classified report. The report in question was intended for the Defense and Security Committee of the lower house and suggested that organized crime had penetrated the state administration. It also contained allegations of pedophilia directed against then-prime minister Jiri Paroubek. The report was leaked to the press just days before the June general elections. Jiri Paroubek said at the time it was a pack of lies intended to damage his party ahead of the elections and filed charges of slander. He has now said he will consider further legal steps.

Weather

The next few days are expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius.

22-12-2006