Civic Democrat leader accepts second bid to form government
Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek has accepted a second bid to form a government. On Monday President Klaus announced that he would give the Civic Democrat leader another chance to form a viable government, despite the fact that his first attempt to do so had ended in failure. President Klaus made the announcement after his bid for a four-party "rainbow government" was blocked by the Social Democratic Party.
Mr. Topolanek accepted the offer with some reluctance on Tuesday after receiving the green light from his party leadership. He is to be officially re-appointed prime minister designate on Wednesday. Political analysts believe that his chances of succeeding are slim and that the President's decision is an attempt to bring the country closer to early elections. The Constitution stipulates that early elections can be called after three unsuccessful attempts at forming a government.
Social Democrats ready to negotiate
The Social Democrats have rejected responsibility for the country's political deadlock and expressed readiness to enter into a new round of talks on forming a new government. At a press conference on Tuesday party leader Jiri Paroubek said his party was willing to discuss support for a minority Civic Democrat cabinet with a limited two year mandate. He ruled out support for a three party coalition between the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Greens or a rainbow government involving his party.
Smaller parties differ on way out of crisis
Responding to the new challenge, the smaller parties have all stated their preferences regarding a way out of the drawn-out political crisis. The Christian Democrats said they favor a centre-right or rainbow coalition. The Greens are against a minority Civic Democrat government as proposed by the Social Democrats and would favour a caretaker cabinet which would lead to early elections in 2007. The Communists have said they are ready to support a centre-left cabinet or a rainbow coalition of all parties including themselves.
European Democrats win court battle over subsidies
The European Democrats have won a court battle to obtain 15 million crowns from state coffers. A Prague court ruled on Tuesday that the small centre right party was eligible for state support for mandates won in the 2002 local elections and that the money had been unlawfully withheld by the Finance Ministry. The ministry refused to make the payment on the grounds that the European Democrats contested seats in the local elections not as a party or coalition but as "a loose alliance of party members and independent candidates". The court ruled that this argument was not justified and has ordered the ministry to settle the debt. The Finance Ministry has the right to appeal.
Czech military police contingent winds up mission in Basra
The Czech military police contingent which has spent three years training Iraqi police officers near Basra in the south of the country, has completed its mission and handed over the training centre to the local authorities. The 100-member strong military contingent was sent to Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein and in the course of the past three years has trained over 12,000 Iraqis for the local police force as well as a team of instructors to eventually take over their work. The Czech Parliament is now debating the possibility of extending the contingent's mission in Iraq but the outcome will depend on whether the British contingent whose base it has been using will remain in place. For the time being the Czechs have been stationed elsewhere.
The next few days are expected to be clear and sunny across most of the Czech Republic with daytime highs at around 10 degrees Celsius.