Klaus gives first interview on political deadlock but avoids question of Grand Coalition

Le Président Vaclav Klaus

At the start of June Czechs went to the polls in parliamentary elections but today - a full fifty days later - it seems they are still not near to having a new government. The Chamber of Deputies is evenly split: a would-be coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens has 100 seats - exactly the same number as the left of the house, the Social Democrats and the Communists. On Monday President Vaclav Klaus, who founded the Civic Democrats, gave his first long interview on the political crisis, in Mlada fronta Dnes. To discuss the president's position, Dita Asiedu spoke to political commentator Petr Just.

"Now he probably feels that there was a need to openly say where he stands. But unfortunately he didn't say it clearly. At the beginning he says that the propose coalition of Mr Topolanek's Civic Democrats, the Greens, and the Christian Democrats is the only possible solution but then he steps back in this statement."

Mr Klaus mentioned four possible ways out of the stalemate and left out a Grand Coalition of the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats. Why do you think is that the case? Why did he not want to talk about it publicly?

"There is one very specific issue and that is public opinion. An opinion poll in today's newspaper suggests that public opinion opposes the idea of a Grand Coalition and Vaclav Klaus is sometimes said to follow public opinion. So, this might be one of the reasons why he does not say openly whether or not he supports a Grand Coalition. That's because the public thinks it is the worst post-election solution."

There are talks of behind the scenes plans by Mr Klaus to entrust Civic Democrat and current Prague Mayor Pavel Bem with the forming of a new government if party leader Mirek Topolanek fails. Would Mr Bem have better chances at making headway?

"Mr Bem is considered to be Vaclav Klaus' person within the current leadership of the Civic Democratic Party. So, Mr Bem could be the president's next candidate for prime minister. Mr Bem has one big advantage. He is the Lord Mayor of Prague, where we have a grand coalition of the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats and he is running this coalition for the second term already. One of his deputies in the previous term was Jiri Paroubek, who was the deputy mayor and is now the leader of the Social Democratic Party. So there might be some connection between these two men and there may be secret talks between them about the composition of the future government, meaning the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats."