Centre-right coalition talks proving far from easy
Following the weekend general elections, Czech right-wing parties are scrambling to capitalize on their gains and reach agreement on a coalition government of fiscal responsibility. Although there is general agreement on the direction the country should take, Monday’s talks indicated that creating a centre-right coalition will be far from easy.
President Václav Klaus, who on Monday met with the leaders of all five parties which won seats in the lower house, broke with tradition in not asking the leader of the party which gained the most votes to try and form a government.
“In order for us to move forward, the parties on the right must hold intensive consultations in the coming hours and days to try and reach agreement on a coalition government. I will hold off from the formal step of naming a prime minister designate until we know the outcome of that effort.”
“I must emphasize that there are still many areas of friction, particularly as regards the government’s anti-corruption strategy. This could result in the fact that we would only be prepared to support a minority government under certain conditions, for a certain period of time.”
Other areas of friction include health care reforms and cost-cutting measures. Although the three parties have agreed that cutting the budget deficit is a primary objective, there are differences over how that should be done. Public Affairs, which won 11 percent of the vote on a populist card would have to forget some of its promises to voters –or stay out of the centre-right government. The alternative solution which it presents – supporting a minority centre right government under certain conditions – would leave the two right wing parties badly weakened and very much at the mercy of an unreadable newcomer.
“At this point it is far from certain that the country is heading for a right-wing coalition government. And it is our duty as Social Democrats to do our best to prevent the establishment of such a government.”