New lower house of Parliament holds first session
On Tuesday, 114 MPs in the 200 member lower house of Parliament will take an oath of loyalty for the first time, as the Chamber meets in its first session following last month’s elections. The new lower house will be far different from that which preceded it: for one, more women MPs than ever were elected and are also expected to hold key posts as lower house speaker and deputy chairpersons. Secondly, the new lower house will be slimmed of numerous committees as part of necessary cost-cutting measures, a move decided on Monday by the three parties negotiating on the next government.
Women, also, are expected to hold three key posts including that of deputy chairpersons and speaker of the lower house. On Tuesday, the three centre-right parties in talks on forming the next government, the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs, who enjoy a comfortable majority of 118 seats, agreed on the division of posts and the reduction of deputy posts from five to three.
Other changes within the new lower house will namely be the reduction of various committees and sub-committees as part of necessary cost-cutting measures. Sources have pointed out that in 1996 there were far fewer in the Chamber of Deputies than was the case over the last four years: 12 committees and one sub-committee then – 18 committees and 56 sub-committees since 2006. In reality, that meant that a mere 33 out of 200 MPs in the house were not receiving extra funds for serving in additional posts and capacities. All told, the committees cost 14.6 million crowns – expenses that will be scaled back substantially, the three parties aiming to form the next government have promised as part of austerity measures.
Meanwhile, even as the session gets underway, talks on the new government among the three parties have slowly but surely continued, with agreement to be reached at the latest by July 7. In that light, it now appears almost certain that the president will appoint Civic Democrat leader Petr Nečas the prime minister-designate. In anticipation of such a move, the country’s interim prime minister Jan Fischer said on Monday that his cabinet could resign by the end of this week, remaining in place only for an interim period, securing continuity, before Mr Nečas and the new government are appointed.