Prime minister faces double-edged political and domestic crisis

Mirek Topolanek, photo: CTK

Under fire from the president and his party colleagues, the Civic Democratic Party leader Mirek Topolanek is now fighting for political survival. To make matters worse he faces a serious domestic crisis. Following months of speculation regarding his relationship with Lucie Talmanova, a deputy for his own party, the prime minister finally announced at the end of last week that he was leaving his wife for his mistress.

Mirek Topolanek, photo: CTK
Seven months ago Mirek Topolanek was on top of the world - today he is seen as a political failure, his 27-year old marriage has disintegrated and his mistress is reported to be pregnant with his child. Dogged by journalists and paparazzi 24 hours a day the prime minister has been under immense pressure. Last week came the breaking point. Mirek Topolanek seemed to give up the fight. He agreed to give up his post as party chairman if his second attempt at trying to form a government failed. And he came clean about his private life, asking journalists to give him "space and time" to resolve his family problems. Although he did not officially confirm that he is the father of Lucie Talmanova's baby, he said he had moved in with her and the press would be informed about developments in due time.

Although the prime minister's personal problems have come at the worst possible time, they alone would not be considered reason for him to resign.

Topolanek is not the first Czech politician whose extra-marital life has been splashed across the papers. Vaclav Klaus' highly publicized relationship with a young stewardess did nothing to harm his chances of becoming president in 2003. Czechs might blame the prime minister for failing to give them a stable government but they sympathize with and crack jokes about his domestic problems. In a cartoon the tabloid Blesk shows a visibly pregnant Talmanova asking the distraught 50 year old prime minister how he would explain himself at home. "I am more afraid of what the party will say" Topolanek replies.