New prime minister faces opposition from day one

Miloš Zeman and Jiří Rusnok, Photo: ČTK

Former coalition parties and the opposition have expressed their strong disapproval of the naming of a caretaker prime minister by the president on Tuesday. No parliamentary party has expressed support for the new Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok, whose future cabinet is already running the risk of not getting enough votes in parliament to confirm their position

Miloš Zeman and Jiří Rusnok,  Photo: ČTK
President Miloš Zeman placed his trust in Jiří Rusnok to put together a new caretaker government, which would resolve the current political crisis in the country. Parliamentary party leaders mostly disagree, saying the president chose a solution that nobody was for.

Petr Nečas' out-going center-right cabinet is still hoping to get what they lobbied for last week – the same government, but with the Civic Democrat Miroslava Němcová as prime minister. Insisting that such a cabinet has the support of the necessary 101 deputies for a confidence vote in parliament, the coalition is hoping to call a vote of no-confidence for Mr. Rusnok as soon as possible. Here was Mrs. Němcová’s response to the president’s decision on Tuesday:

“The government of the Czech Republic relies on the support of the lower house of parliament. The president should aspire to name a government, which he knows will get that support. He’s responsible for the fact that we are losing time and momentum in this critical time.”

Miroslava Němcová,  Photo: ČTK
The former coalition partner TOP 09 criticized the president’s decision as irresponsible particularly because of next year’s budget, which is traditionally put together in the summer months. The new prime minister said that he considers the budget to be one of his future government’s top priorities. But outgoing Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek from TOP 09 is convinced Mr. Rusnok is bound to fail in getting any budget approved:

“People who no one voted for, who don’t have support from any of the parliamentary parties, simply cannot propose a budget that would be acceptable. And no Chamber of Deputies would ever approve a budget like that and Jiří Rusnok knows this full well.”

The Social Democrats certainly dislike agreeing with their right-of-center rivals, but they too disapprove of the president’s move. They are still pushing for early elections, having described the possible new government as Miloš Zeman’s attempt to shore up votes for his own Citizens’ Rights Party by choosing close associates for the cabinet. Senior Social Democrat Lubomír Zaorálek said that this is shaping up to be a government of friends of the president, rather than one of technocrats, as a non-political caretaker government should be.

Lubomír Zaorálek,  Photo: ČTK
“President Zeman seems that he is building up his own party. He is approaching even the political crisis that has broken out with his own political goals in mind. I don’t think that this befitting the president’s role.”

So far, Prime Minister Rusnok said that he wants Martin Pecina as his interior minister and Jan Kohout as foreign minister – both men held the same posts in the caretaker government of Jan Fischer three years ago. But regardless of how the cabinet shapes up, this attempt to form a government seems already doomed to fail.