Slowly but surely, Czech PM Petr Nečas is seeking to consolidate his position within the main coalition party, the Civic Democrats (ODS). His deadlines for doing so are the October regional and Senate elections, which even party optimists expect to result in a thrashing for the center-right party. A weeks-long investigation by Czech Position shows how Nečas will hold on to power.
Karel Schwarzenberg has just marked a jubilee: His visit to Trieste, Italy, on June 10 was his 50th official foreign visit since becoming foreign minister in July 2010. There is increasing chatter that Schwarzenberg is spending too much time abroad, which is reportedly playing into the hands of power cliques in the foreign ministry and “rogue elements” in his own TOP 09 party. The disparaging motto “keep granddad in the air” is widely heard in the corridors of power.
Legislation proposed by junior coalition member TOP 09 to compensate victims of the communist regime with money deducted from the pensions of former secret police (StB) agents and top communist party functionaries has been put on hold due to concerns that the legislation would be overturned by the Constitutional Court — and difficulties defining victims.
Miloš Havránek and Petr Šrámek, the owners of the accountancy firm Bene Factum, are probably cursing the day they met Michal Babák from Public Affairs. The parliamentary deputy’s claim that he has a 15 percent stake in their company has put them on the spot. Meanwhile the accountancy firm seems to have carried on some work for some interesting companies, including those in the Via Chem Group owned by the controversial entrepreneur Petr Sisák.
Upon his appointment as Minister of Interior Jan Kubice announced that he was not planning on making any sweeping personnel changes in the ministry. In the week since his appointment, however, he has announced that four of the five deputy ministers are to be replaced. The fifth is also tipped to receive his marching orders.
On Tuesday morning I heard the unbelievable news that Jan Kubice is to become Minister of Interior. I don’t like to use strong language, but in this case I believe it’s appropriate. I’m afraid that we have just crossed the Rubicon and now no rules count.
President Václav Klaus has taken over management of the government crisis. Since he is now in a very important stage of his presidential reign — his mandate ends in a little over a year and a half — we can expect him to make increasingly bold interventions into domestic politics. He should be praised for this because he’s probably the only one who knows exactly what’s behind the current crisis, and it’s absolutely obvious that he doesn’t want to play this game.
Public Affairs (VV) — the smallest of the three parties in the ruling coalition and source of the latest crisis that is threatening to topple the government — has insisted that their official leader, Radek John, remain Interior Minister. That stance gives no ground to calls from prime minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) that he be sacked for his close ties to outgoing transport minister Vít Bárta (VV).
Although Transport Minister Vít Bárta — the Public Affairs (VV) paymaster and de facto leader — has stepped down following the “cash for loyalty” scandal, President Václav Klaus said Monday he will not accept any resignations until Prime Minister Petr Nečas presents him with a plan on how a new government will continue. Meanwhile, VV is threatening to vote against the government in a no-confidence motion.
Vít Bárta resigned as transport minister on Friday afternoon, saying that he didn’t want the accusations of corruption against him to damage his party or the functioning of the ruling coalition. PM Petr Nečas promptly accepted Bárta’s resignation and called upon President Václav Klaus to follow suit; nevertheless, Bárta still intends to run for the post of Public Affairs (VV) chairman in May.