Reforms back on track as Czech ruling coalition regains strength
After weeks of instability, the centre-right government consolidated its position in the lower house on Wednesday, passing not only a vote of confidence but also some of its key reform bills: a package of controversial tax hikes, a bill on pension reform and that on church restitutions.
A smiling Prime Minister Nečas greeted the outcome of the vote as a significant victory:
“This bill will resolve a painful legacy that we have been grappling with for 20 years and in the long run it will save the state money.”
The opposition on Wednesday slammed the legislation calling it “daylight robbery” and arguing that churches would receive far more than had been confiscated by the communists, moreover at a time when the country could ill afford it. The concerns of the newly established coalition party LIDEM that there may not be enough money in state coffers for the settlement, should the bill on tax hikes be scuppered, were swept away by the prime minister who is clearly impatient to see the government’s reforms back on track. LIDEM party leader, Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake said she was ready to take his word for it. In return, the party which split from Public Affairs and bolstered the government in an earlier crisis will gain a legitimate standing in the ruling coalition.
“The coalition agreement and the government’s policy programme, which were originally co-signed by Public Affairs, will be revised and signed by the newly established party LIDEM. Our partners in the coalition have also promised to support the establishment of a LIDEM deputies’ group in Parliament.”