The leaders of the Civic Democratic Party, TOP 09 and Public Affairs are
meeting on Sunday night to debate the end of the coalition agreement.
Following the split of the scandal-tarred junior party Public Affairs the
Civic Democrats and TOP 09 say they do not wish to continue to rule with
the faction around the party’s founder and informal leader Vít Bárta.
The future of the government now depends on whether Deputy Prime Minister
Karolína Peake, who last week defected from Public Affairs, can rally
enough deputies behind her to set up a faction and ensure a “safe”
majority for the ruling coalition.Prime Minister Petr Nečas has given her
until Monday to produce her new “team”.
Although this meeting of coalition leaders in its present set-up is the last, the coalition will not be officially dissolved until the executive council of the Civic Democratic Party votes on the matter on Monday.
Deputy Prime Minister Karolina Peake, who is trying to rally enough
supporters behind her new faction to save the centre-right government
from collapse, is still two votes short of the required number. In an
interview on Czech Television Ms Peake said she was still in negotiation
with four to five MPS who were considering her offer.
The deputy prime minister said she did not believe early elections would be a good solution to the present crisis, citing the need to press ahead with reforms. She said she would do everything in her power to save the present government and hoped that by dint of hard work and results it could slowly regain lost public trust.
Trade union leaders are to meet on Wednesday to discuss further action against the government should it survive in office. On Saturday a trade union protest march against the government and its reforms attracted around 100,000 people –the biggest anti-government demonstration since the fall of communism in 1989. Bohumir Dufek, chairman of the Czech Association of Independent Trade is pushing for a general strike should the government manage to muster enough support from independent deputies to continue in office.
More than two thirds of Czechs want the government of Prime Minister Nečas out and early elections at the earliest possible date. According to a flash poll conducted for Czech Television by the Median agency 70.6 percent of respondents said they wanted early elections; 22.7 percent would like to see the government continue in office. Of the government’s reforms the strongest opposition was to a planned hike in VAT and to a lesser extent a rise in income tax. People also cited the corruption scandals surrounding the ruling parties as one of the reasons why it was no longer acceptable for them to continue in office.
Some two thousand ultra-right activists marched through the town of
Břeclav on Sunday afternoon in a show of support for a 15-year-old youth
who was brutally attacked by three allegedly Roma youths. Participants in
the march, organized by the youth branch of the National Workers Party for
Social Justice, chanted slogans against Romanies whom they accuse of
terrorising the local inhabitants and the Břeclav town hall which they say
is incapable to securing law and order.
There were stormy scenes outside the town hall when demonstrators met face to face with the mayor and demanded to know what he was doing to improve security. The mayor promised a better camera system and more street patrols. Hundreds of officers were out in force to maintain order but apart from smaller skirmishes the protest march passed without major incident.
A young woman was taken to hospital on Satuday night after suffering a bite from a Sri-Lankan Ornamental Tarantula. The incident reportedly happened at a sports club in Karlovy Vary. The spider, a fast and aggressive breed, was brought in by a group of young people and somehow managed to escape from its glass box. The young woman was bitten after picking it up from the floor for fear someone would tread on it. The spider’s bite is not life threatening although very painful and may cause complications.
An estimated 100,000 people joined an anti-government protest march though the centre of Prague on Saturday. The massive show of discontent with the government’s reforms was organized by the country’s umbrella trade union organization which is demanding the resignation of the centre-right cabinet of Prime Minister Petr Nečas. Trade unions have accused the government of impoverishing the weakest groups of the population with what they call unnecessarily harsh austerity measures, particularly seniors, handicapped and chronically ill people and families with children. Representatives from the opposition Social Democrats and Communist Party joined the march in a show of solidarity.
The leader of the Social Democrats Bohuslav Sobotka said that tension in the society had come close to breaking point and the show of public discontent was now such that the government could not continue to ignore it. The Social Democrat leader said that in view of the circumstances and the crippling government crisis the only clean solution would be to hold early elections in June.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas said he fully respected people’s right to voice their opinion but objected to the fact that the opposition parties had hijacked the protest to suit their own political interests. The prime minister said that in the country’s best interest the government would continue to follow a policy of fiscal responsibility. He said that what the opposition parties and trade unions had demonstrated on Saturday was sheer populism and said they had no viable alternative to offer to the government proposed reforms.