Pundit: early elections may be the only viable option
The fate of the Czech government hangs in the balance in the wake of a corruption scandal involving the junior coalition party Public Affairs. The prime minister’s intention to dismiss two Public Affairs ministers perceived as close allies of Transport Minister Vít Bárta who resigned on Friday amidst allegations of corruption, have raised the ire of the smallest party in government. Public Affairs has threatened to walk out unless its coalition partners sweep before their own doors first – triggering a broad cabinet reshuffle. The deadlock over who should stay and who should go has precipitated a crisis that could result in early elections. Radio Prague asked political analyst Jiří Pehe to assess the government’s chances of survival.
What are they? Are we looking at early elections here?
“Of course, early elections are always the last option and everyone will try to avoid them because we had general elections last year, at the same time it may be the only viable option if the government falls apart and the two right-of-centre parties –the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 will not be able to gain a majority in the lower chamber. It is possible that at least one part of the Public Affairs party which is at the centre of the scandal will support the government and then of course the government could still function, however I think it will be really difficult for the government to go ahead with any significant reforms in this kind of situation.”
“Well, I would say that Czechs are getting used to early elections. The political situation in the country is inherently unstable and I think the reason is that Czech politics is controlled to a large degree by business groups outside politics and therefore we have great potential for instability, no matter what. But I think that the public would probably welcome early elections simply because the level of public frustration is so high that holding early elections in the fall would definitely release some of the pressure that is now quite visible.”
But how serious would this be for the reforms that need to be approved and implemented?