Will Vladimir Spidla survive rebellion over public finance reforms?

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla

The summer might be coming to an end but one man who might be still feeling the heat is Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla. With a majority of one seat in parliament, he's trying to push forward a radical (well radical-ish) package of spending cuts, pass a budget with a record deficit of 118 billion crowns, and now faces a vote of no-confidence from the opposition Civic Democrats. Things aren't being made any easier by one Josef Hojdar, an MP for Mr Spidla's Social Democrat party. Mr Hojdar says he won't support the reform package, a decision which could sink the fragile ruling coalition - Prime Minister Spidla says he'll resign if the reforms don't succeed. So how deadly is the Hojdar threat? A question Rob Cameron put earlier to analyst Jiri Pehe.

"We have to realise that Mr Hojdar is basically an unguided missile. His motives are not very clear. On the one hand he says the reforms are asocial, that they will harm working people. On the other hand he proposes even more radical reforms. It is not clear at all what Mr Hojdar wants, and that's why it's difficult to predict what he will do. I think that in the end, the reforms will pass, simply because it is a package of 12 different bills, and it would be very difficult for Mr Hojdar to kill them all. He may vote against some of those bills, but if he votes against all of them then his motives would be questioned. It would not be clear why he had to kill even those bills that perhaps were not, as he says, asocial."

So you think we're going to end up with a good old Czech compromise? The government will survive, the reforms will scrape through with a few alterations, and nothing really will happen?

"What will have to happen is that the government has to prepare a budget for next year, and that budget has to pass. And that budget is dependent on the reform package. In fact I think that at this point the reform package has only one purpose, and that is to create the conditions for passing a budget that would be acceptable to all the coalition partners. So it means that if some of the bills that are part of the reform package are not approved in parliament - for example because of Mr Hojdar - then the government will have to will have to look for some other cuts, simply because I don't think the Social Democrats' coalition partners will agree with a budget that goes beyond the planned deficit of 118 billion crowns. So once again, I think the government would simply have to find ways of cutting expenditure somewhere else if one of the bills or more of them are not approved."

The head of Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, photo: CTK
The right-of-centre opposition Civic Democrats say they want to initiate a vote of confidence in the government when the September session of parliament starts on September 23rd. How successful will that attempt be?

"I don't expect the Civic Democrats to succeed. I think it's one thing to vote against a particular bill that is part of the package of reforms. It is quite something else to vote against your own government. So I don't think the Civic Democrats partners in the ruling coalition - deputies from the ruling coalition - who would vote against their own government."

Analyst Jiri Pehe, speaking there to Rob Cameron.