Topolánek to decide in next few days over leadership battle

Mirek Topolánek has said he will decide in the next few days whether to defend his position as leader of the Civic Democrats at a party congress in December. Mr Topolánek has come under strong pressure since the party did poorly in recent regional and Senate elections. The prime minister told Czech Television it was more likely he would stand, adding that he would make his decision after seeing if any candidate he approves of comes forward in the near future. So far the only person standing for the post is a vocal critic of Mr Topolánek’s, Prague Mayor Pavel Bém.

A survey of regional Civic Democrat functionaries carried out by the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes suggests Mr Topolánek has considerably less support than either Mr Bém or Evžen Tošenovský, one of the 12 Civic Democrat governors who lost their posts in the recent elections. Mr Tošenovský has not declared his candidacy, but there is speculation he will stand.

On Thursday Civic Democrat MP Oldřich Vojíř said he would take part in the leadership battle if Mr Topolánek, with whom he identifies with politically, does not.

Meanwhile, a close associate of Mr Bém’s, Petr Bendl, has announced he will run for first deputy chairman of the Civic Democrats, a post currently occupied by the Prague mayor.

Author: Ian Willoughby