Caretaker government demanding fresh mandate and consensus on 2010 budget

Photo: CTK

Emotions ran high and politicians traded insults on Tuesday, after the Social Democrats unexpectedly pulled the plug on early elections, deepening uncertainty over the country’s future. The move has left the Czech Republic in the hands of a caretaker government which is now demanding a new mandate and consensus on next year’s budget.

Photo: CTK
When Prime Minister Jan Fischer’s cabinet of technocrats took over the government of the country in May of this year it was only expected to function in a caretaker role and lead the country to premature elections. But with two attempts at early elections scuppered, its position has radically changed. On Tuesday the prime minister laid down his conditions for remaining in office:

“If politicians agree that they want my administration to continue to govern the country, then I consider it essential that my cabinet should receive a new mandate. I would also make this mandate conditional on a broad consensus on spending cuts which would keep next year’s budget deficit below 170 billion crowns – i.e. below 5 percent of the GDP.”

Václav Klaus and Eduard Janota, photo: CTK
President Václav Klaus who expressed grave concern over the latest development, is now holding separate talks with individual party leaders to ascertain their measure of support for the Fischer cabinet and their willingness to reach consensus on the proposed tax-hikes and spending-cuts.

A flash poll has shown that 67 percent of Czechs trust the Fischer cabinet and want it to remain in office until regular elections in May or June of next year. And analysts say that while the political chaos is doing the Czech Republic a disservice, the delay in elections could have some economic advantages. The 2010 draft budget proposed by finance minister Eduard Janota, which politicians had by and large refused to take seriously in view of the projected elections, is back on the table. Pundits say that after the election fiasco political parties will have to make a big effort to reach agreement on it, since anything else would be perceived as destructive by voters. Some are even questioning whether this was not the idea all along – for a non-partisan cabinet to carry the burden of unpopular cost-cutting measures and see the country through the worst of the crisis.