Government awaiting parliamentary vote of confidence

The centre-left coalition led by Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla is trying to muster support for a parliamentary vote of approval, expected later on Wednesday. According to its policy statement released on Tuesday, the new government wants to secure Czech membership of the European Union by holding a referendum next year and carrying out legislative and institutional reforms to bring the Czech Republic in line with EU standards. The Czech Republic has closed 26 of the 30 chapters of legislation necessary for EU membership. Negotiations on the remaining chapters, which include agriculture and government finance, are expected to end by December. Although the Civic Democrat and Communist opposition who hold 99 of the 200 seats in parliament say they will not give it their support, the statement is expected to get the vote of confidence thanks to the government coalition's one-vote majority in the lower house.