Mirek Topolánek’s centre-right government may have emerged victorious from Wednesday’s no-confidence vote, but it’s not out of the woods yet. There is still the nasty prospect of potential defeat in this weekend’s Senate elections, and clouds gathering over the Czech Republic’s EU presidency, due to start in January next year. In the wake of the Civic Democrat’s triumph on Wednesday, I spoke to political analyst Jiří Pehe and asked how resounding this victory actually was:
“I think that the trouble for the cabinet may be over for some time, but that the trouble for Mirek Topolánek has just started. I think that he is under more and more pressure in his own party, and that this will lead to his resignation eventually.”
But what about this in the context of the next couple of months – there is the second round of the Senate elections coming up this weekend, will this give the government a boost going into those elections?
Jiří Paroubek (right), photo: CTK
“I don’t think that the second round of Senate elections will do anything for the government. Firstly, the Social Democratic Party – that is the largest opposition party – is leading in most districts, and it seems that at best the Civic Democratic Party will be able to defend its current position in the Senate, by defending nine seats. But otherwise I think the Senate elections will be interpreted as another defeat for Mr Topolánek and for the Civic Democratic Party, and therefore I think the Senate elections will not do anything for the government.”
Do you think that the current instability on the Czech political scene is contributing to these ideas being mooted in Europe of the Czechs having a lesser role during their EU presidency?
Mirek Topolánek, photo: CTK
“I think that talk about possibly extending the French presidency of the European Union, or the French president having a more active role during the Czech presidency, is not driven only by Czech political instability. I think the main cause is quite simply the fact that the Czech Republic does not seem to be well prepared for its EU presidency, that the Czech Republic is considered to be a eurosceptic country which hasn’t ratified the Lisbon Treaty. And certainly it is not seen by anyone in Europe as a country that can provide any kind of leadership in the current economic and financial crisis. So, unfortunately for Czech politicians, it seems that no matter what the Czech Republic does, the great European powers, certainly France, will try to play a more active role. Because they cannot simply leave the current crisis in the European economy and financial markets to Czech politicians who seem incompetent enough not to be able to solve domestic problems.”