New Czech government slowly taking shape
It's been over two weeks since the Czech elections heralded a result no one really wanted: an election deadlock. The victorious Civic Democrats and their likely coalition allies could only muster a total of 100 seats—still one short of a majority in the lower house. Meanwhile, the second-place finishers, the Social Democrats, were saying that they would refuse to support a coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens. But there seems to have been a shift in thinking now.
The negotiating teams have also revealed the numerical division of ministry posts: when the new coalition is formally introduced, the Civic Democrats will hold nine ministry postings, and the Christian Democrats and the Greens will each hold three posts.
Otherwise, the negotiating teams of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens have kept a rather tight rein on information. A fact that is not surprising given how fragile a situation they are dealing with—a joint mandate of just 100 seats leaves no room for public quarrels and petty fights. If Mr. Topolanek and his allies want to make this government coalition work, they can not leave the Social Democratic leader, Mr. Paroubek, any room to divide them.
Of course Mr. Paroubek has outlined specific conditions for this support. Namely, he says the Social Democrats can not accept the so-called flat tax—a key component of the Civic Democratic election platform. Mr. Paroubek is also opposed to raising taxes on food products and medicine, and to the privatization of public services—especially those in the healthcare sector.
Many of Mr. Paroubek's stated conditions are not acceptable for Mr. Topolanek and the Civic Democrats, so although the leaders of the two major parties are now talking, in real terms it seems that they are still far away from a concrete agreement. In fact, it is looking more and more likely that Mr. Topolanek will take the risk and introduce his government coalition of 100 with no pre-arranged support from the Social Democrats.