ODS says Klaus refusal to dismiss ministers is unconstitutional
Public Affairs (VV) — the smallest of the three parties in the ruling coalition — refused to defuse a crisis that is threatening to topple the government by insisting that its official leader, Radek John, remain Minister of Interior.
That refusal to bow to the demands from Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) that John is sacked, fuels the ongoing crisis with no apparent climbdiown by either side in sight. Nečas demanded John, along with Education Minister Josef Dobeš (VV), be sacked for their close links to the man at the center of the “cash for loyalty” scandal, outgoing Transport Minister Vít Bárta.
Following a meeting of VV’s club of parliamentary deputies on Tuesday afternoon, the club’s new chairwoman Karolína Peake read a statement insisting that VV chairman John remains at his post. At the same time, the party called upon Nečas to convene another meeting of the K9 — formed from party leaders — to try and plot a path away from the crisis.
The VV leader has refused to resign unless a wider Cabinet reshuffle is called in which the Top 09 deputy leader, Finance Minister Miloslav Kalousek, and two ODS ministers, Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra and Agriculture Minister Ivan Fuksa, also go. John upped the stakes by warning that VV could vote against the government and bring it down if the prime minister inisted the party bear the brunt of sackings in the aftermath of the scandal.
John outlined the party stand: “We certainly don’t want to bring down the government. …We want to negotiate, but we want to warn that there is no plan B; there’s no resolution to the crisis. We resolutely don’t want ODS to have the Ministry of Interior because cases involving ODS are being investigated there,” John said. ‘We certainly don’t want to bring down the government. …We want to negotiate, but we want to warn that there is no plan B’
Following the K9 meeting on Monday evening, commentators speculated that the coalition parties had reached some sort of provisional agreement. Reports suggested that following Vondra’s offer to relinquish his post, John agreed to also resign — if VV was given an alternative ministry.
Earlier on Tuesday, the ODS confirmed support for the party’s leader Nečas and his demand regarding the Ministry of Interior. “ODS [parliamentary] deputies consider that it is unacceptable for a Public Affairs candidate to head the Ministry of Interior,” the club said in a statement read by its chairman Petr Tluchoř after their meeting. “This is a non-negotiable condition,” Nečas added.
ODS is also insisting that Dobеš resign as Education Minister. Bárta, offered his resignation last Friday after it admitting to giving cash payments to several party members and reports emerged indicating that Bárta’s prime motivation for entering politics was to further the economic interests of the private detective agency ABL, which he founded.
Klaus stands firm
Meanwhile, President Václav Klaus told reporters on Tuesday that he is not satisfied with the plan to resolve the crisis presented to him by Nečas on Monday night. “I set the condition that before I act in any way I want to see whether the K9 is capable of meeting, whether it is functioning, or whether it will announce an end to it all,” he said. Klaus repeated his position that he will not dismiss any ministers under a clear plan for the future of the coalition government is put to him.
PM Nečas responded suggesting that the President’s stance goes against the Constitution. “I have to say that I did inform Mr. President about what the next steps will be, and I’m ready to lay them out in more detail,” Nečas said, adding that according to the Constitution, the President cannot block the dismissal of ministers. “It’s essential to observe the Constitution,” Nečas stressed.
A futher stalemate could stem from the fact that ODS parliamentarians say no futher meeting of party leaders in the K9 can occur before the president dismisses the three VV ministers.
Public Affairs opened another front in their clash with the Civic Democrats. They said they had filed a criminal complaint against the Minister of Agriculture Ivan Fuksa (ODS) and general director of the state-controled forestry firm Lesy ČR, Svatopluk Sýkora, relating to the alleged misuse of state funds.
The main opposition center-left Social Democrats (ČSSD) issued a statement on Tuesday reaffirming their intention to call for a vote of no confidence in the government by Friday if the Nečas minister does not do so.