Christian Democrats pull out of talks with Social Democrats
The Christian Democrats have said they are pulling out of talks on joining a left-of-centre coalition that would have needed to rely on the support from the communists to produce a parliamentary majority. On Thursday the party's leader Miroslav Kalousek surprised many within his own party when he agreed to talks with the head of the Social Democrats, Jiri Paroubek. He in turn had jettisoned negotiations with Prime Minister designate Mirek Topolanek. Mr Kalousek initially gained approval from his party's leadership, but on Friday many members of his party expressed dissatisfaction to the idea of entering a minority government relying on communist support.
On Friday, members of the party in three regions in the Czech Republic - Brno, Havirov, and Zlin - called on the party leaders to resign, while Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda told the CTK news agency that he had "never supported nor would support" the move by the leadership.
The party's decision to now scrap talks with the Social Democrats looks set to prolong a political stalemate which has lasted since the general elections ended in deadlock in June.
The political fallout has led the head of the Christian Democrats, Miroslav Kalousek, handing in his resignation on Friday evening. He has said that he will stay on as an MP. The developments over the last two days marked an unusual turn for Mr Kalousek, given that he repeatedly said his party would take part in no government relying on Communist Party support. But, he defended his sudden change of stance by saying it was motivated by the need to prevent the larger parties from changing the electoral system in a way that would have harmed the smaller parties, such as his own Christian Democrats.
Earlier in the day, negotiations continued...
Preceding the latest developments, the Social Democrat and Christian Democratic parties took part in negotiations early on Friday, outlining priorities for their proposed government. Discussed were issues of church and state, as well as introducing changes to the make-up of parliament to prevent future parliamentary deadlock. Social Democrat deputy chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said that his party had agreed to a number of significant compromises. Later, Social Democrat head Jiri Paroubek - in Vienna on Friday - denied promising the Christian Democrats half the posts in any new cabinet, but did stress they should hold important posts, for example, the Interior Ministry.
Questions over euro
Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Friday that he saw no reason why the European currency - the euro - shouldn't be adopted by the Czech Republic by 2010 as planned, if his Social Democrats formed a new government soon - something not likely following the latest decision by the Christian Democrats to pull out of talks. Mr Sobotka told the Reuters news agency further consultation with the Central Bank would be necessary, to determine how advantageous joining the eurozone in 2010 will be for the country. He also said he gave priority to maintaining current high economic growth above adoption of the euro. A number of economists interviewed by the Czech news agency CTK have said suggested that 2012 or 2013 could be more realistic dates for adoption of the currency.
Civic Democrats to try and form caretaker cabinet
Earlier, before the Christian Democrats' announcement they would pull out of talks on a left-of-centre cabinet, Prime minister designate Mirek Topolanek revealed that his party was prepared to form a caretaker government to lead the country to early elections. Mr Topolanek said that he would present his proposed minority government to the president by the end of the next week. The prime minister designate declined to say who would be named to the new cabinet. But, given the developments later in the day, it is not yet clear whether this proposal will go forward.
If Mr Topolanek does push for a minority Civic Democrat government the decision will be President Klaus' whether or not to appoint the proposed ministers. If he does, the government will then have thirty days to ask the Chamber of Deputies for a vote of confidence.
UEFA football match-ups
Four Czech football clubs - Sparta, Slavia, Mlada Boleslav, and Liberec have learned which teams they will face in the opening round of the UEFA CUP. The draw took place on Friday. Sparta will face the Scottish side Heart of Midlothian, Slavia the Tottenham Hotspurs, Mlada Boleslav will challenge Olympique Marseille, and Liberec will face Red Star Belgrade.
The next few days should bring partly cloudy skies with some rain showers and daytime highs around 23 degrees Celsius.