Fresh corruption scandal shakes ruling TOP 09 party ahead of elections
A fresh corruption scandal has hit the Czech coalition government less than a fortnight ahead of October’s regional and senate elections and this time the police struck higher than ever before in the echelons of executive power. On Monday plainclothes officers detained Deputy Labour and Social Affairs Minister Vladimír Šiška and the ministry’s IT section head Milan Hojer. Both were later charged with bribery. The news has sent shockwaves through the ruling TOP 09 party which on Tuesday met to debate the crisis.
“The two officials have been charged with bribery in connection with public procurement, and irregularities in announcing a public tender.”
Visibly shaken by the latest developments, Minister Drábek was called to give an explanation to the prime minister on Monday night and attend a crisis meeting of his party’s leadership on Tuesday. Following the meeting, the minister announced he was dismissing Šiška from his post.
The announcement stilled calls from the regions for the minister’s immediate resignation and TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg publicly threw his weight behind the minister at Tuesday’s press briefing in Prague. However the grave faces at the press conference revealed just how serious a blow this was to the party ahead of the regional and senate elections and how little room there was left for any kind of damage mitigation.