President invites party chiefs to Prague Castle to discuss new attempt at forming cabinet

Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTK

It has been 150 days since general elections in June produced an inconclusive result and the country has been without a stable government ever since. For the first time since last weekend's Senate elections, President Vaclav Klaus has commented on the situation; he said it is no longer possible to prolong a state when the country is governed by a cabinet which does not have the backing of the lower house.

Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTK
After the minority Civic Democrat cabinet of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek failed to gain confidence in the lower house on October 3rd, the President halted talks on the formation of a new cabinet so as not to interfere with the Senate and local election scheduled for the end of the month. Now that the elections are over, having resulted in a victory for the Civic Democrats, it is up to the President to appoint a new Prime Minister.

He said on Tuesday the new attempt at forming a new cabinet has to be significantly different from the previous one which failed. He reiterated he was looking for a stable solution and he would accept only a serious agreement between the parties, not one relying on the votes of a few turncoats. Even a temporary cabinet that would lead the country to potential early elections, President Klaus said, needs to have the approval of the lower house.

Mr Klaus has invited the leaders of all the five parties represented in the lower house for a meeting at Prague Castle on Friday. On Monday and Tuesday, a series of bilateral meetings took place between individual parties. The Civic Democrats prefer early elections which require a constitutional amendment backed by three-fifths of all MPs and Senators. The Christian Democrats and the Green Party agree with that option. So do the Communists, but only if a stable, preferably centre-left, government backed by their party, cannot be formed.

Mirek Topolanek, photo: CTK
The Social Democrats see early elections as the last resort and they are pushing for as late a date as possible. The Christian Democrats say they can envisage a temporary cabinet made up of all the parties in the lower house minus the Communists. Prime Minister and Civic Democrat chief Mirek Topolanek stresses that the crucial thing is to negotiate a constitutional majority in parliament to facilitate early elections, and only then can debate start on the kind of government that will lead the country to them.

On Friday, the five party leaders will present their different ideas to the president and it will be up to him to find a new prime minister who will try to put together a cabinet that would be approved by the lower house. That will only be the second attempt since the June election. The Czech Constitution requires three failed attempts before early elections can be called.