President Zeman hints former centre-right coalition could return to power
It currently looks unlikely that Czech MPs will approve the Rusnok cabinet in a vote in the lower house in two weeks’ time. President Miloš Zeman has hinted that if it fails, he could give the former centre-right coalition a chance to form the next cabinet. But the president has laid down a condition: before he even considers that, he wants to see notarized signatures of a majority of MPs pledging to back such a cabinet. I asked commentator Erik Best for his reading of Mr Zeman’s latest move.
So what do you think the president’s goal is? Some commentators says he wants to put the Social Democrats under pressure to support the interim cabinet; others believe he’s looking for excuses to keep the Rusnok government in power even after it fails to win confidence from the lower house. What do you think?
“I think that his move yesterday when the president asked for 101 notarized signatures means that he has realized Rusnok’s government will not get approval from the lower hours in the first attempt. I think there was no other reason for him to come up with this requirement now other than to make it more difficult for the former coalition parties to form the government, and to lay the ground for him to appoint someone else the second time around.
Meanwhile, Mr Zeman also seems to busy with his own party, the Citizens’ Rights Party – Zemanites. A deputy chair of that group, Radek Augustin, is now to become the chief of the cabinet’s office. Do you think the Zemanites could become an important political force in time for the next elections?
“I think that is a trick question. Of course, the Zemanites party is an important force because Mr Zeman is able to use them to weaken the Social Democrats. At time though, I don’t think that is a party with any kind of long term future. He is using them to weaken the party he cares about, and those are the Social Democrats.
“What he really wants to do is to take over the Social Democrats and run it, not as the chairman but as the president, and the best way is to divide it, and to divide it, he uses the Zemanites.