Opposition treaty continues

12-03-2001

After lengthy talks on Friday night, the two leading Czech political parties agreed to continue with the so-called opposition agreement, a unique arrangement whereby the centre-right opposition Civic Democrats keep the centre-left minority Social Democrat government in power. According to the Civic Democrats, the government had failed to deliver on a number of promises, and many people expected the meeting on Friday night between the two parties to bring an end to the agreement. But the opposition agreement is still going strong and could well remain in place until next year's general elections. Olga Szantova has been looking into the issue.

First, why was the opposition agreement signed in the first place? The Social Democrats won the last general elections with 74 out of the 200 seats in Parliament. Being far short of a parliamentary majority, the only way they could form a minority government was to sign an agreement with the main opposition Civic Democrats, in return for extensive concessions. At the time, this came as a great surprise to many. I asked commentator Vaclav Pinkava, what was behind the treaty, was it really only because, as the Civic Democrats claimed, they wanted to help the country by giving it a strong government?

Vaclav KlausVaclav Klaus But isn't support for the Social Democratic cabinet weakening the position of Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party?
But many say the government has failed to fulfil a number of promises on a wide range of issues, including changes to the old age pension system, the deregulation of rent, and, above all, the budget deficit is much larger than agreed. So, why did the Civic Democrats agree to uphold the opposition agreement and why are the Social Democrats making so many promises to meet their opposition allies' demands?

12-03-2001