Topolanek unveils "magnificent seven" reform proposal

Photo: CTK

Now stop me if you've heard this one before, but the right-of-centre Civic Democrats have just unveiled their latest proposal for a new pro-reform government. The Civic Democrats are holding talks with the other political parties before taking the proposal to President Vaclav Klaus next week. So does it stand a greater chance of success than the party's first attempt to form a government, which ended in failure last month?

Photo: CTK
There have been so many proposals and potential cabinets over the last six months and all of them have come to nothing. Observers are asking whether this one will be any different. Certainly it bears a grand title. The Civic Democrats are calling their proposal "Seven Magnificent Reforms for the Future", covering such areas as public finance, pensions and health care.

What's less clear is who will be in this new government. According to media reports the Civic Democrats would have five cabinet seats plus the post of prime minister, five seats would go to the Social Democrats, two to the Christian Democrats and the rest to non-partisan figures. The main problem, says politics lecturer Petr Just, is that many of the Civic Democrats' proposals are fiercely opposed by the Social Democrats.

"If we count the members of parliament for each political party, if we take into account the parliamentary mathematics, we clearly see there has to be an agreement between the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats. Without the Social Democrats, the Civic Democrats will not be able to form any government. And then we go back to what this programme proposes. It proposes, for example, a flat tax, which is something that the Social Democrats don't even want to hear about. There are issues which are very controversial. Therefore I think that this proposal will probably not be a base for any stable government."

Mirek Topolanek,  photo: CTK
So far the three parties that the Civic Democrats are talking to - the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens - are making encouraging noises. But they've made encouraging noises in the past, so that doesn't mean much.

Vaclav Klaus and Mirek Topolanek,  photo: CTK
Meanwhile Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek says when President Klaus comes back to Prague next week he will present him with one of two potential proposals - either a cabinet that will have guaranteed majority support in parliament, or one that won't. And there are already reports in the media that Mr Klaus would be against some of the names on list.

How long the Czech post-election "crisis" can go on is hard to say. Certainly January 1st 2007 will be a milestone, if nothing else because the Czech people have almost completely lost interest in what their politicians are saying. Even political scientists such as Petr Just admit that at times they don't understand what's going on.

"Several times during the post-election crisis, during the post-election talks, I've said - as a kind of joke - that I'm going to return my diploma. It was a kind of joke, but it does symbolise what we the political scientists and political analysts think about the whole issue. We're the ones who are supposed to be analysing the situation and comment and provide some information to the general public. The general public expect that we will tell them what it all means, to explain it. But sometimes even we don't understand it."