Jiri Paroubek intends to push for early elections

Outgoing Social Democratic prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, has confirmed that he intends to press for early elections to the lower house in 2008. Mr. Paroubek made the statements during a televised interview on Sunday, saying that he does not want to allow a minority Civic Democratic government to govern until 2009, when the Czech Republic will hold the presidency of the European Union. The Social Democratic chairman was reacting to his rival, the chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, Mirek Topolanek, who does not agree with the notion that the next government's mandate should end before the EU presidency term finishes in June 2009. Earlier, Mr. Paroubek had expressed the opinion that early elections would not hurt the Czech Republic's success during the EU presidency rotation.

Mr. Topolanek and Mr. Paroubek are due to meet on Monday to discuss the conditions for Social Democratic support for a minority Civic Democratic government. Mr. Paroubek wants to approve key ministry postings and two possible Civic Democratic candidates are problematic for him: Alexander Vondra and Ivan Langer, who have been tipped as candidates for foreign minister and interior minister, respectively.