Civic Democrats propose Miroslava Němcová for PM

Miroslava Němcová, foto: ČTK

In a surprise move, the Civic Democratic Party on Wednesday proposed the speaker of the lower house Miroslava Němcová as the country’s next prime minister. The choice of a woman to head the cabinet has been hailed as a smart move by commentators, but the response of the party’s coalition partners has been lukewarm and Ms. Němcová’s nomination for prime minister designate is in the hands of President Miloš Zeman, who has given no indication that he wants the present coalition to continue in office.

Miroslava Němcová, photo: CTK
In the midst of a crippling corruption scandal the Civic Democrats have pushed forward one of their few remaining trustworthy faces : Miroslava Němcová, the country’s fourth most popular politician, was never linked to any of the party’s backroom deals and a few months ago she even broke party ranks to apologize to the public for the “perks” granted to three former party MPs who accommodatingly vacated their seats in order to clear the way for the government’s controversial tax package. The affair has now brought down the government and the party is hoping that Ms. Němcová can pick up the pieces.

The popular 60-year-old politician looked grave as she explained why she’d nodded to the offer.

“I am fully aware of the critical and complicated situation the country is in and of the crisis within my own party. And after 15 years in politics I arrived at the conclusion that having received so much support, it is now time for me to give. I am grateful for the trust placed in me and I am glad we able to reach a swift decision in this matter because the public is not interested in our skirmishes, the public needs a government that will perform well and tackle the problems at hand.”

Miloš Zeman, photo: CTK
The party’s coalition partners TOP 09 and LIDEM did not hide their irritation at not having been consulted about the nomination in advance, endorsing the move in a lukewarm manner and noting that while Mrs. Němcová was a respected and popular figure whom they would be happy to work with, her nomination created a new problem –the need to choose and win approval for a new speaker of the lower house.

Whether it will even come to that is far from certain, because the ball is now in the president’s court and Mr. Zeman is keeping his own council on whether the centre-right coalition has any chance of continuing in office. Moreover, he may well remember the unflattering remarks the speaker of the lower house made about him shortly after his election to the presidency, portraying him as a power-hungry man whom it would be hard to deal with.

Petr Nečas, photo: CTK
Meanwhile, the opposition parties continue to protest in unison against any effort to preserve the present coalition. The opposition Social Democrats claim the centre-right parties have squandered their public trust and lost their mandate to govern the country, stressing that it makes no difference who they put forward as possible prime minister. The Communist Party argues that the extra expense incurred by holding snap elections would be nothing compared to the damage the centre-right coalition would do if it got another year in government. While Public Affairs note they wouldn’t vote for Ms Němcová even if she were Joan of Arc herself.

After 15 years of building a sound reputation in politics, Miroslava Němcová has stepped into the front-line to try and give her party and the centre-right coalition a new lease on life. Many predict that the move, which may have stood a chance earlier, has come too late.