Fate of reforms uncertain ahead of crucial vote in Parliament
The centre-right Czech government is holding intensive last-minute negotiations to secure support for a fiscal reform package that the prime minister has staked his political future on. The cabinet holds just 100 seats in the 200 member lower house and due to a number of last minute snags support for the reforms is far from certain.
Although the Greens and Christian Democrats expressed serious reservations with regard to the introduction of medical fees -an understanding was reached and all but one of their deputies have now promised to support the reform package. However a much more serious problem arose when six Civic Democrat Deputies led by former finance minister Vlastiml Tlusty announced late last week that they could not support the reforms because the re-balance in taxes would lead to a heavier tax burden for many people in 2009.
Monday brought a fragile cease fire and a great deal of uncertainty about what is going on behind the scenes. If the reforms fall through on Tuesday the Prime Minister would very likely resign, bringing down the entire cabinet. And because new elections are hard to trigger, this would mean talks on a new government - based on the outcome of the last elections. Whether or not that happens rests largely on one man - the prime minister's main party rival Vlastimil Tlusty.