The shaky and unstable Czech center-right coalition has decided to wobble on in power after party leaders agreed to budget targets for 2013 and 2014 and mildly readjusted program priorities. The budget goals were the basic conditions for PM Petr Nečas and TOP 09 to agree to the uncomfortable ménage a trois with Public Affairs (VV).
Demonstrators gathered in Prague, Brno and Ostrava on Thursday – a national holiday to mark the anniversary of the events which led to the end of the communist regime in 1989. The largest demonstration took place on Prague’s Wenceslas Square. Organized by the ProAlt civic movement and trade unions, police said 2,000 attended though organizers put the number at around 4,000.
Just before midnight on Sunday, 14 reform and austerity bills were passed by the lower house following six days of obstruction led by the main opposition party, the Social Democrats (ČSSD). The bills include rises to VAT rates in 2012 and 2012, and social security and pension reforms. The opposition, however, says it will appeal to the Constitution Court over a motion limiting debating time on the laws.
Sealed bids submitted last week by three consortia to clean up environmental pollution caused under the Communist regime remain in a safe at the Czech Ministry of Finance. PM Petr Nečas told the daily Hospodářské noviny he wants to see the controversial eco-tender scrapped, even though he doesn’t know the prices put forward in the offers, and may leave bidders in limbo to avoid arbitration.
Last Monday’s papers were full of headlines declaring the end of the three-party coalition government was nigh. The conflict was indeed bitter, but the “gruesome end” of which TOP 09’s leader Karel Schwarzenberg spoke didn’t occur. Intensive negotiations between ODS and VV leaders took place from Monday through Thursday — without the participation of TOP 09 — alongside separate talks between PM Petr Nečas (ODS) and VV leaders. The result was an amendment to the coalition agreement, signed by the party leaders on June 30.
Public Affairs (VV) will stay in the three-way center-right Czech coalition government with a new deal between parties ready for signing on Thursday afternoon, VV leader Radek John said in the morning. VV threatened to quit by the end of June, threatening the government’s collapse and early elections, unless a series of policy demands and call for more ministerial seats were met.
The leaders of the three ruling coalition parties failed to agree to a new coalition agreement after four hours of talks on Sunday. Public Affairs (VV), the smallest of the three, still says it will leave the coalition if amendments to the coalition agreement are not endorsed by June 30. Center-right TOP 09 says the current coalition agreement is still valid and will not negotiate any personnel changes.
Wrangles over taxes and gaming machines blocked Czech government parties from sealing a new deal to keep them together. The smallest party in the coalition, Public Affairs (VV), is still threatening to walk out of the government if its demands are not met. That could leave the government led by Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) without a majority — and the country facing early elections.
Czechs give very poor marks to the current center-right coalition government led by Petr Nečas (ODS). A majority of the Czech public rated the work of the government as either the ‘worst’ or ‘one of the worst’ and also said they were ‘disgusted’ by the ruling politicians, according to a poll by SANEP. Still, just over half said new elections would make any difference, showing dissatisfaction with the overall political landscape.
A Public Affairs (VV) party conference at the weekend confirmed Radek John as party leader and issued a clear challenge that it will quit the government coalition unless its gets a greater share of power. Tension within the fragile coalition is set to mount Wednesday as party leaders debate the government’s future, with VV continuing to reject a demand it fall into line over proposed health reforms.