Centre-right coalition dead, talks on new government start afresh
Two months after the country's inconclusive general elections negotiations on a new government are back to square one. A centre right coalition between the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and Greens was pronounced dead on Friday for lack of support and President Klaus urged the leaders of the two strongest parties on the right and left - the Civic and Social Democrats - to find an alternative solution that would end the drawn-out stalemate.
If anything the two months of futile talks have weakened Mr. Topolanek's position both within his party and on the Czech political scene. On Friday President Klaus refused to appoint him prime minister designate and entrust him with the task of forming a new government, merely telling the two biggest parties to go back to the negotiating table and find an acceptable compromise.
Although the Civic Democrats are still ruling out a German style grand coalition political analyst Jiri Pehe says circumstances are pushing both parties in that direction and that any compromise reached will just be a variation of a grand coalition:
" A grand coalition can take on different forms - it can be a government consisting of politicians of the two parties -top politicians - but it can also be a government of experts which is backed by the two largest parties or it can be a government in which one party has politicians and the smaller - or less successful one / ie. the Social Democratic Party/ will nominate only experts."
In the ensuing battle of wills it is the Civic Democratic Party leader who will be at a disadvantage. Unlike the outgoing prime minister who rules his party with an iron hand, Mr. Topolanek's position at the head of the Civic Democrats may be shaky with reports of a power struggle within party ranks. And knowing this, Mr. Paroubek has put the heat on him - saying that unless an agreement is reached soon he would effect a cabinet re-shuffle and ask the lower house for a vote of confidence.