Centre-right coalition faces confidence vote following departure of Public Affairs

Karel Schwarzenberg, Petr Nečas, Radek John, photo: CTK

The ruling coalition that won an unprecedented majority in the last elections is a thing of the past. On Tuesday, the Public Affairs party, decimated by the recent departure of a number of former members, left the government. The centre-right cabinet now faces a vote of confidence to test the strength of its support in the lower house.

Karel Schwarzenberg,  Petr Nečas,  Radek John,  photo: CTK
The troubled centre-right coalition between the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs came to an end on Tuesday, no longer the 118-strong majority once viewed as unassailable in the lower house. Public Affairs chairman Radek John told the media that the MPs in his decimated party were going into opposition and would in the future carefully consider which government proposals they wanted to support. The focus for the time being, though, is less on Public Affairs and more on those remaining in power: the Civic Democrats, TOP 09, and breakaway MPs led by Karolína Peake – who is rallying supporters behind her in an effort to secure even a slim majority for the government.

Karolína Peake
As it stands, the government now only has a tally of 100 votes in the Chamber of Deputies, which is not enough. Whether they can add to that support from additional independents or members of the departed Public Affairs will be known soon, with the prime minister, Petr Nečas, preparing to ask the lower house for a confidence vote on Friday.

Originally, the PM asked for proof of a stable majority from MP Peake in the form of a ten-member deputies’ club. However as she appeared unable to meet this condition the prime minister quickly backtracked saying that support from 10 independent but reliable MPs would suffice.

So it will all come down to Friday: should the government fall, it would have broad repercussions, with key legislation threatened including additional austerity measures, a bill outlining procedure in the upcoming direct presidential election, church property restitution, and more. What’s more, if opinion polls are to be trusted, a collapse of the government would also now lead to a major victory by the political Left: last week one survey suggested that the opposition Social Democrats and the Communist Party together would clinch as much as 57 percent of the ballot if elections were held tomorrow. That is something many on the political Right have expressed the determination to prevent – one reason why the government may gain just enough votes on Friday to continue trudging ahead.