Coalition parties begin search for new prime minister

Miloš Zeman, Petr Nečas, photo: CTK

Following the resignation of Prime Minister Petr Nečas, the race is on to find a suitable successor from within the Civic Democratic Party. The Civ Dems, together with coalition partners TOP 09 and LIDEM, are looking to put forward a candidate within a matter of days who could renew the government and remain in power until regular elections next year.

Miloš Zeman,  Petr Nečas,  photo: CTK
The question is who that person will be. The successful candidate will not only have to be acceptable to all within the coalition (someone who can secure a majority in the lower house) but also to the president. Several names are being mentioned as strong favourites, primarily Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kuba (who indicated a strong interest). But TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg, speaking on Czech Radio, made clear for some within his party the Industry and Trade Minister would not be a welcome choice.

“What I heard from our MPs is that Mr Kuba would have a tough time getting a majority in the lower house and his nomination would be met with significant resistance from some.”

Martin Kuba,  photo: CTK
The party leader suggested Mr Kuba – not an MP – would be left at a significant disadvantage as something of a “greenhorn” if named the next prime minister. Broadly speaking, Mr Kuba’s past ties to one of the Civic Democratic Party’s so-called godfathers is also considered a serious hindrance.

Other Civic Democrats being mentioned are Justice Minister Pavel Blažek, MP Zbyněk Stanjura and the chairwoman of the Chamber of Deputies Miroslava Němcová, the last of who has long been held in high regard, but who blinked in the past when she was the party’s first nominee for president. An earlier favourite, former justice minister Jiří Pospíšil is reportedly no longer ‘in the running’, presumably after he backed Mr Kuba.

To save time and prevent potential discord, the Civic Democrats after a meeting of senior party members on Monday) opted to hold talks with their coalition partners first to sound out possible names. Who will emerge remains very much an open question. Should it prove impossible to agree on a suitable candidate in the matter of days or, say, a week, some representatives, such as Jirí Pospíšil and Martin Kuba told the media they were not afraid of early elections. Those have been called for from the very start by the opposition. Social Democrat deputy leader Michal Hašek:

Michal Hašek,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“It makes no sense in trying to put together another government that will only last for several months, a government whose main motto will be ‘Thanks for every new morning’.”

The naming of the next prime minister, of course, will hinge most on the country’s president: as has been noted, Miloš Zeman can respect a proposal from the centre-right coalition but is under no obligation to do so. Once the coalition decides, the ball will be very much in the president’s court.