Country one step closer to early elections

President Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTK

On Sunday, the President's secretary Ladislav Jakl surprised many when he said that President Vaclav Klaus would give the Civic Democrats a second chance at forming a new government. The first attempt failed earlier this month when the minority cabinet of Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek lost a vote of confidence in Parliament. So what are the Civic Democrats' chances of success this time? Dita Asiedu reports:

President Vaclav Klaus,  photo: CTK
As you heard in the earlier report, Czechs went to the polls in general elections in June but the five political parties who made it into the lower house of Parliament have not been able to come to agreement and form a new government. Neither the results of the municipal nor the Senate elections have made negotiations easier. But an announcement by the secretary to the president, Ladislav Jakl, on Sunday may have brought the country closer to early elections.

"It will be a matter of hours rather than days before the President will ask the winners of the Senate elections, the Civic Democrats, to lead government talks."

Jiri Paroubek,  photo: CTK
Words that dealt Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek a heavy blow. He was hoping to be next in line to form a new government and had three possibilities in mind - a grand coalition between the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats, a three-party coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Greens, or a minority Social Democrat government that would rely on the support of the Communists and at least one deputy from the centre-right.

Jiri Paroubek and Vojtech Filip,  photo: CTK
But with the Civic Democrats most likely gaining a second chance at forming a new government, the Communists appear to have switched sides. They say they are toning down demands to pave a way out of political deadlock. According to party leader Vojtech Filip, the Communists will support early elections despite opposition from the other party on the left of the political spectrum, the Social Democrats. The Social Democrats also need not be represented in a potential "government of national unity" that would lead the country into early elections. The only condition that the Communists set is that the Civic Democrats give up the post of prime minister to an independent expert.

With the Communists' support, the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Greens - all of whom want early elections - are no longer one vote short of a majority in parliament. The only question that remains is whether the centre-right will accept the Communists' offer. All three parties have pledged not to work with the party connected to 40 years of totalitarian rule. If they come to some kind of consensus, early elections could be held as soon as May next year.