President Klaus appoints new cabinet

Die neue Koalitionsregierung (Foto: CTK)

The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, appointed a new cabinet on Wednesday morning, thus ending a six-week political limbo in the Czech Republic. That followed the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla in June. The new Prime Minister, Stanislav Gross, had promised to put together a young and dynamic team, supposed to last until the next general election in 2006.

The new government, photo: CTK
Pavla Horakova has been following the - at times difficult and complex process - and she is now with me in the studio to offer some details.

Pavla, has Mr Gross really succeeded in forming a new dynamic, younger cabinet?

"Well, Jan, not that much has changed, really. Commentators have even dubbed the new government 'Spidla's cabinet without Spidla'. It consists of the same three coalition parties as the previous government, that is the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, and it will enjoy exactly the same support in the lower house - just 101 votes in the 200-member chamber of deputies. That is the thinnest possible majority, so there has been speculation as to how stable this new government will be and how it will succeed in pushing through policies and reforms it has promised to carry out.

Vaclav Klaus and new Defence Minister Karel Kuehnl, photo: CTK
Twelve ministers are staying on in the government and there are six new members. Regarding age: Prime Minister Gross is indeed the youngest prime minister this country has ever seen, at the age of just 34, but with the exception of the Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy, Martin Jahn, who is also 34, the other new cabinet members are all in their fifties."

How are women represented in the new cabinet?

"There will be only two women in the 18-member team, just like in the previous government, before Health Minister Marie Souckova was replaced by Jozef Kubyinyi earlier this year. The new Health Minister is a woman, Social Democrat MP Milada Emmerova, and the other woman in the cabinet is Petra Buzkova who has retained her post of Education Minister."

You mentioned that the government only enjoys a one-vote majority in the lower house but after being appointed by the President it has yet to win a vote of confidence in the lower house. Is it certain that the chamber will endorse the new cabinet?

Frantisek Bublan, th new Interior Minister, photo: CTK
"The outcome of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross's negotiating skills will be put to the test in the second half of August when the vote of confidence is expected to take place. Mr Gross says he is confident that the cabinet will get the vote. Otherwise, negotiations would have to start all over again.

And one last thing, according to unofficial information, President Vaclav Klaus had certain objections to some of the nominees for ministerial posts. On Tuesday afternoon he met with Cyril Svoboda, the Foreign Minister who has remained in office, the new Defence Minister Karel Kuehnl and the new Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan, to discuss their respective portfolios. Apparently, Mr Klaus was satisfied with what he had heard, because he did appoint all three of them as ministers on Wednesday."