Topolanek, Paroubek hold first TV debate since inconclusive elections

The leaders of the two biggest Czech parties have held their first television debate since inconclusive elections two months ago. During Sunday's debate Mirek Topolanek of the Civic Democrats (who came first in June's elections) called on Jiri Paroubek of the Social Democrats (who came second) to step down as prime minister. Mr Paroubek refused, saying President Vaclav Klaus had already rejected one offer of resignation.

The Social Democrats chief said Mr Topolanek was anxious because the period the president had given him to try to form a government was almost up. He said only negotiations between himself, the president and Mr Topolanek could resolve the crisis.

The Civic Democrats chairman has tried to form an alliance with the Christian Democrats and the Greens, but this coalition is one vote short of a majority in the Chamber of Deputies.

Author: Ian Willoughby