Analyst: “Bátora affair” just pretext for government crisis
Ministers from the TOP 09 party made good on their promise on Wednesday and boycotted a cabinet meeting in protest of the continued presence of the controversial, highly-placed civil servant Ladislav Bátora at the Education Ministry. The party has slammed the official for past ties to the extremist National Party and for insults recently aimed at its leader, Karel Schwarzenberg, indicating things won’t return to normal until Mr Bátora is replaced. Some, however, argue that Mr Bátora is not the real issue at all, and that the scandal is being exploited by TOP 09 for its own political ends.
Earlier I spoke to political analyst Jiří Pehe who suggested that one of those most at fault in the current crisis was Mr Nečas himself.
“I think that the prime minister is one of the biggest problems in this whole crisis. I think that he is unable to resist the president and that he is very weak and unable and unwilling to step in when there is a government crisis. At this point, quite clearly, it would be logical for the prime minister to simply order the education minister to recall Mr Bátora from his post or also lose the job. But the prime minister knows that he would run into strong opposition from Prague Castle and that the president would probably not obey his request. So he is caught in between.”
The party’s leadership has made clear that the issue of Batora’s dismissal is not negotiable. The prime minister’s Civic Democrats, by contrast, have indirectly charged that the Bátora affair is merely an excuse for TOP 09 to escalate the crisis. The reason? Its members may be looking for a way out of government - one saddled with unpopular reforms and a highly-dysfunctional coalition partner, Public Affairs. Jiří Pehe says this may indeed be the case: