Czech Republic braces itself for weeks of political uncertainty
The Czechs have gone to the polls: after eight years in government, the Social Democrats are to make room for the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats, with their sweeping promises of pro-market reforms and tax cuts. But that is not the end of the story. The Civic Democrats will only be able to form a majority government if they join forces with the Social Democrats. They have already rejected any form of cooperation with the Communists. The leaders of the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats so far rule out a Grand Coalition, leaving the country in political deadlock. Dita Asiedu reports:
"Now don't let's pretend that you will be able to form a majority government. Are you planning to buy someone's support, or what are you going to do?"
...the leader of the Communist Party, Vojtech Filip, said during a TV debate on Sunday. And, he is not that far from the truth. Political commentator, Jan Bures:
"I think that the situation is really very complicated because both blocs don't have a majority in Parliament. In my opinion I think that the first possibility is to build a coalition between the Civic Democratic Party, the Greens, and the Christian Democrats but they have to look for some kind of support from the Social Democrats. It will be a very interesting process to see whether the Social Democrats will accept this situation and will want to support this centre-right coalition."
In a television debate Mr Paroubek was happy to point out to the other party leaders, that his party will play an important role in the country's political future:
"I would like to remind you, gentlemen, just in case you haven't realised it yet, that you will not even be able to lift a finger without us, the opposition."
At their party leadership meeting on Sunday, the Social Democrats decided that they would prefer to go into opposition, but they have not rejected outright some kind of coalition.
"In the next few days we will try to hold talks with the potential partners and I will not exclude the Social Democrats in order to be able to sort out the situation we find ourselves in."
Mr Topolanek has vowed to step down as party leader, if he fails to form a new government.
The constitution allows three tries at forming a government. Should they fail, the country will face early elections. No matter what happens, the Civic Democrats will face some tough negotiations and the Czech Republic can brace itself for several weeks of political uncertainty.