Klaus and Paroubek at loggerheads over Rath appointment
There seems to be a curse hanging over the Czech health ministry. Few ministers since 1989 have kept their post for much longer than a year and the health sector has been plagued by financial troubles despite all attempts at reform. The recently vacated seat was about to be filled by David Rath, the head of the professional body of Czech doctors, but President Vaclav Klaus refused to confirm his appointment on Thursday, citing conflict of interest on Mr Rath's part. Only hours later Mr Rath was named deputy health minister.
"In this case when the president of the Chamber of Doctors is established as health minister, it is really a problem because he is the chief representative of one part of the health sector and now he should be a partner to himself, in fact. So there the objection of the President is understandable. Unfortunately, according to my opinion, he has no right to refuse to appoint him as minister. So I am afraid that President Klaus again extended his powers and the Prime Minister solved it in the way that Mr Rath will in fact lead the ministry but formally the ministry will be under the governance of the prime minister. So I think it is not good for the Czech political culture and if they had discussed the matter beforehand, it would be much better."
"I don't think so. You should remember that there was a 'plan A' several weeks ago that [former] health minister Milada Emmerova will remain in office and Mr Rath will be her first deputy and he will in fact be chief executive office of the ministry. She refused that therefore she was sacked and he was appointed. So the 'plan B' was in fact 'plan A' several weeks ago."
But Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek is not giving up. Although technically speaking, he has his man at the helm of the ministry, he needs Mr Rath to become a regular cabinet member because his vote would make a difference in the three party coalition government. Commentators agree that all three men: President Vaclav Klaus, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and David Rath, should meet and settle the dispute before it results in a serious constitutional crisis.