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22 Oct, 2008 21:20

Czech government survives vote of no confidence

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in parliament in Prague. It's the fourth such vote in two years, and underlines his government's fragile hold on power, with opposition to policies including the siting of a c

With the ruling Civic Democratic Party losing the elections in all the regions recently, there are signs of growing disgruntlement with the government.

Members of the ruling party have acknowledge the problems. Boris Stastny, from the Czech Civic Democratic Party said:

“The electorate has punished us for bad communication on the subject of reforms – in particular for bad health reform,” he said. “Of course, there was certain negative voting with the voters trying to communicate that they would like to see a change – be it within the political culture or within the parliament. But I think the current government is still doing its job.”

After two rocky years in office, Prime Minister Topolanek, who governs a fragile three-party coalition, has been dogged by opposition to a healthcare reform plan intended to transfer increasing medical costs on to patients.

Even more controversial has been his support of the US radar missile system to be built in the Czech Republic, with more than two thirds of the population rejecting the idea. The bilateral deal was signed on July 8 and still needs to be approved by the parliament and the president of the republic.

Jiri Paroubek, the country’s former Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, says the Cabinet is unable to defend the interests of its citizens.

“The government has signed a bilateral deal with the United States about the deployment of the radar on Czech soil against the public will and without co-ordination with NATO partners. How can this government be trusted?”

Lubomir Zaoralek, vice-chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech parliament says he is “convinced that this government is unable to manage a very serious task to preside over the EU from January 1 next year and is unable to manage this situation of financial crisis.”

Even though the government has survived, it may not be the end of the current cabinet’s problems. Poor results in the coming second round of the election to the Senate could cost the Prime Minister his post as party chairman in December.

That would give a chance to the opposition to push through a referendum on the US radar.