Scandal within junior coalition member Public Affairs shakes government
Corruption allegations against the junior member of the governing coalition, Public Affairs, are threatening to further unbalance a government that has seen its share of scandals over the past months. Public Affairs’ deputy chairman Jaroslav Škárka was dismissed from the self-styled anti-corruption party on Tuesday, after his claims that he was getting paid to ensure his silence on the party’s financial dealings became public. His allegations against party leader and transport minister Vít Bárta have unfurled speculation whether or not the government can weather the storm – or has to think of an alternative coalition scenario.
At the center of the corruption affair is a leading figure of Public Affairs, Transport Minister Vít Bárta, from whom Škárka claims to have received regular payments of 55,000 Czech crowns to ensure his secrecy on party financing, as well as a separate one-time cash sum of 170,000 crowns.
On its website, Mladá fronta Dnes weighed the possibility of early elections. Nečas distanced himself from the speculations, calling them unfounded.
Bohuslav Sobotka, the leader of the opposition Social Democrats, has called on the prime minister to dismiss Bárta. Should the disintegration of the Public Affairs party continue, the opposition says it will put the government to the test with yet another vote of no confidence.