Prime Minister Petr Nečas (center) survives another day
The center-right coalition government of Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) easily survived a no-confidence motion on Tuesday night but the government still looks fragile in the weeks to come.
The three-party coalition rallied 114 votes out of the 198 MPs present to defeat the motion called by the main opposition Social Democrats (ČSSD). Together with three breakaway members of the junior coalition Public Affairs (VV) party, the ČSSD and Communist Party (KSČM) mustered 84 votes in favor of the motion — well short of the 101 needed to topple the government.
The vote was called in the wake of a “cash for loyalty” payments scandal centered on the VV and its de facto head, Vít Bárta, who was forced to resign as Minister of Transport in a compromise Cabinet reshuffle last week. ‘The public is outraged, the public is disgusted, and the public is poisoned by what the government has done over the last nine months.’
Referring to the scandal, ČSSD leader Bohulslav Sobotka labeled the coalition as a government of national disgrace. “The public is outraged, the public is disgusted, and the public is poisoned by what the government has done over the last nine months,” he said.
But PM Nečas said the coalition still had a mission to push through health and pension reforms. “This government will never be a mere caretaker government, sitting in offices and administering. That ambition is insufficient for this government to stay in power.”
The government faces its next tests when pension and health reforms are voted on in June with Nečas promising to link their passing with a confidence vote in the lower house of Parliament.
The VV party has pledged backing for the coalition government only until those reforms are passed, leaving a question mark over the future intentions of its bloc of MPs which are crucial for maintaining the government majority.
Figurehead VV leader Radek John — the former interior minister named to the new position of anti-corruption czar as part of the Cabinet reshuffle — underlined continuing tensions in the coalition on Tuesday. He hit back against Nečas’ ban on him bringing former deputy interior minister Michal Moroz (VV) with him to his new post. John said he would resign if he could not choose his colleagues in the new post.