PM Paroubek keeps door open on Communist cooperation

06-05-2005

After weeks of hot debate and political turmoil the Czech Republic is finally settling down with its new government - or rather new-old government, as it differs only very little from the previous one. The coalition partners remain the same, only a handful of ministers have been replaced. The new Prime Minister, the former minister for local development, Jiri Paroubek, declares that the new team does not plan any big changes. The government still has to survive a vote of confidence in parliament next week, and there are still several dissidents within the ruling Social Democratic party whose votes seem less than secure. Martin Mikule met the Prime Minister and asked him whether he saw this as a potential danger.

Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, photo: CTKPrime Minister Jiri Paroubek, photo: CTK There was this problem with certain non-conformists among our deputies until yesterday. At the meeting of our deputies group we spoke to all our MPs and it is possible to say that we have a full support of all of them."

But now after the difficulties that the last government went through you probably can not be sure that every single deputy will support you in the future. Would you be willing then to make any concessions to the Communist Party and to cooperate with them in different issues?

"To be quite open, Czech Communist Party has in Czech Parliament a fifth of all deputies. It is a great power, it is necessary to calculate with this power and it is a normal thing to negotiate with them. Last week I said that before the vote of confidence (next week) I will speak also with the leaders of both opposition political parties - i.e. with the Civic Democratic Party and the Communists."

Do you think that sometimes in the future - probably not in this election term but at some point - the Social Democrats should cooperate with the Communists even more? Perhaps to form a coalition?

Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, photo: CTKPrime Minister Jiri Paroubek, photo: CTK "Yes. In general it could be possible. I can imagine a similar model like in France or Italy but at this moment is the Social Democratic Party according to public opinion polls weaker then the Communists. This is necessary to change. I cannot imagine that the Social Democratic Party could go to the left-oriented coalition after five or nine years if the Communist Party were stronger than the Social Democrats."

You have taken this post of the prime minister in the last year of the election term, so you have only one year to manage the program of this government. Do you really believe that you can manage that within a single year?

"It is necessary to say that we have prepared many new bills that will affect the political and social life in our country. I mean the tax law, the law regarding housing construction, and legislation in many other areas. I need a few months for this purpose. I mean four or five months, and after that it will be possible to say that our work will be well evaluated by our citizens."

06-05-2005