Party rebel forces prime minister's hand
The leadership of the governing Civic Democratic Party on Tuesday bowed to pressure from the newly emerged faction surrounding party rebel Vlastimil Tlusty. Party leader and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek announced that the party would try to revise the planned tax reform in line with Mr Tlusty's proposal. The prime minister has thus given his loudest critic a chance to call the shots, which could either make him or break him.
"Given the present political circumstances, the idea that the Civic Democrats are in a position to push through their own radical reform plans is ridiculous," Mr. Topolanek said. But on Tuesday he was singling a different tune - and he put Vlastimil Tlusty on a team of negotiators who are expected to do just that.
The party's coalition partners - the Christian Democrats and the Greens - have expressed surprise at the unexpected U-turn and are clearly reserved about the possibility of reaching agreement on a major tax overhaul at this late hour.
"I think that the prime minister is really under threat. He knows that on this particular point Mr. Tlusty is not joking. He is prepared to veto the reform package and I would argue that this is not because of the economic substance of the package but because Mr. Tlusty, previously a very important figure in the Civic Democratic Party, has been sidelined by Mr. Topolanek and he is basically playing for his political life - trying to revive his chances of once again becoming one of the top figures in the party. On the other hand, Mr. Topolanek is also playing for his political future because he knows very well that if the reform package were to be rejected and the government were to fall he would probably not be asked by the president to form yet another government and so his political future would be seriously threatened."