Parties react to collapse of government

Meanwhile, the outgoing leader of the right-of-centre Freedom Union, Petr Mares, said the party was prepared to go into opposition. But Pavel Nemec, who many expect to be elected new Freedom Union chairman on Sunday, said he was prepared to play a part in a coalition government which would have a majority in the Chamber of Deputies and not have to rely on the support of the Communist Party.

The Communist Party would be prepared to support a minority government under certain conditions, said chairman Miroslav Grebenicek. He also said he welcomed Mr Spidla's resignation and said it was good that he was departing the political scene.

The biggest opposition party, the Civic Democrats, are in favour of the establishment of a caretaker government which would remain in place until the holding of early elections, said chairman Mirek Topolanek.

Author: Ian Willoughby