Coalition government leaders mend the breach

Cyril Svoboda, Vladimir Spidla and Ivan Pilip, photo:CTK

The Czech government crisis appears to be over. On Wednesday the leaders of the fragile governing coalition agreed on a mechanism which should, in future, ensure support for crucial government proposals from all deputies of the governing parties. The Social Democrat Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla says the mechanism provides sufficient guarantees for the government to function properly over the next four years. But political analysts and members of the opposition are far less optimistic. They call it a stop-gap measure that will not outlive the next serious crisis.

Cyril Svoboda, Vladimir Spidla and Ivan Pilip, photo:CTK
Earlier Daniela Lazarova spoke to Vladimira Dvorakova, a political analyst at the Prague School of Economics, who feels that under the surface many problems remain and that the upcoming vote on next year's budget will be something of a litmus test of the viability of this Cabinet.

"Yes, I think that problems can emerge again during the next month or two during the crucial debate on next year's budget -so we shall see how the agreement stands up to this test. I am afraid that quite a few Social Democrats are against this agreement, that they are afraid of the policies of the Freedom Union and would prefer either cooperation with the Civic Democratic Party or with the Communists."

Yes, well the Civic Democratic Party and the Communists were both very eager to make use of this opportunity to acquire new power. We saw that in the last few days, when they were already tabling certain demands . Why do you think that the PM actually ignored those options? Are they more risky for him ?

"Well, he ignored them partly because of the election campaign when he said there would be no coalition with either the Civic Democrats or the Communists - that was just three months ago, after all. Secondly, I think it was due to the influence of President Havel. Because at first the PM was strongly against further cooperation with the Freedom Union and he would probably prefer to have a minority cabinet with tacit support -once from the communists, another time from the Civic Democrats. But President Havel is strongly against the break up of this coalition, which inevitably influenced the decision making . The demise of Cabinet ministers has to be accepted by the president so if the President was against the idea it would have made any other option difficult to pursue. If the President did not accept the ministers demise there would be no solution."

Well, the president is due to leave office in 4 months' time. But do you really think that the public is prepared for a situation where the communists would have greater influence on government decision making?

"I think the public would not be strongly against. It would be against actually having communists in government but not against their supporting certain bills."

How much time do you give this Cabinet - in its present set up?

"I think that if they survive the budget vote then they have a chance to survive the Czech Republic's integration in the EU . On EU integration they have much common ground and for each of the three parties it is a top priority. This would probably help the Cabinet to survive."