PM says cabinet reshuffle not a priority

Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has hinted that a planned cabinet reshuffle might not happen, saying that the EU presidency had presented him with far more important priorities. In an interview for Czech television on Sunday the prime minister told journalists that the reshuffle was complicated by the need to get on with the business at hand and admitted that he should have made changes in the cabinet ahead of the EU presidency, ideally immediately after the coalitions poor showing in October’s regional and Senate elections.

The planned reshuffle is being complicated by the Christian Democratic Party, which has been unable to agree on which of its ministers should leave the government. Following a heated dispute over whether it should be party leader and Local Development Minister Jiří Čunek or Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, the Christian Democrat leadership changed tack on Saturday, insisting that both men be allowed to remain in the cabinet. The prime minister who has his own ideas about who he wants to replace, but is bound by a coalition agreement to debate the matter with his partners. If the prime minister were to force the Christian Democrats’ hand over this the party could walk out and bring down the government.

Meanwhile, the Green Party of the ruling coalition would like to see the reshuffle take place. Party leader Martin Bursík said on Sunday that the party proposed replacing the minister for human rights, Džamila Stehlikova, with rock musician and former MP Michal Kocáb.