Petr Nečas has resigned as Czech prime minister, bringing to an end his three-party coalition government. Mr. Nečas, who announced his decision late on Sunday night, formally tendered his resignation to President Miloš Zeman at Prague Castle on Monday evening. His move follows the filing of charges of bribery against his close personal aide, Jana Nagyová; she is also charged with ordering military intelligence chiefs to spy on the prime minister’s wife. Her arrest was part of an unprecedented police operation that also saw seven other people charged, among them three former MPs from Mr. Nečas’s Civic Democrats. Mr. Nečas will leave politics entirely. ¨
Petr Nečas, who is 48, had been prime minister for three years. A physics graduate, he first entered Parliament on the Civic Democrats’ ticket in 1992. He was appointed to his first cabinet post, as minister for labour, in 2006. He was elected chairman of the Civic Democrats in June 2010, the same month he became prime minister. Regarded as personally untainted by scandal, he vowed to clean up the reputation of his party but later met some opposition from within. The main achievements of his government were a church restitution bill and reform of the pension system.
After Mr. Nečas formally resigned, the president thanked him charged him and his government with continuing to run the country in a caretaker capacity until a replacement cabinet is installed. Mr. Zeman said that he would welcome representatives of the parties in Parliament to his country residence at Lány between Friday and Monday. He said he would give them time to hold negotiations between themselves until that time.
The Civic Democrats are hoping a nominee from within their ranks can replace Petr Nečas as prime minister. Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kuba has indicated interest in the post, while other names being mentioned are Jiří Pospíšil, Pavel Blažek, Zbyněk Stanjura and Tomáš Chalupa. However, any candidate would have to be acceptable to the other two parties in the coalition, TOP 09 and LIDEM. That could rule out Mr. Kuba, to whom TOP 09’s leaders are reported to be opposed. In any case, it is not clear whether the coalition would be able to achieve the majority needed to win a vote of confidence in the lower house.
After a meeting of the senior party leadership on Monday, the Civic Democrats said they had not yet decided on a candidate for prime minister. Martin Kuba, who is first deputy chairman of the party and is leading the party following Mr. Nečas’s resignation, said they would wait to hear the opinions of their coalition partners and President Miloš Zeman. Mr. Kuba said talks on a way forward would take place in a matter of days.
While the three parties in government want to see out a term that comes to an end in just under a year from now, the opposition Social Democrats have repeated their call for a snap election. The party’s leader, Bohuslav Sobotka, says the only way forward is to dissolve parliament, a move that would necessitate fresh elections within 60 days. However, that would require at least 120 votes in the Chamber of Deputies, which the coalition parties could block. Mr. Sobotka says he wants to discuss the situation with the other parties and the president, Miloš Zeman. The Communist Party have also called for early elections.
Announcing his resignation, Petr Nečas said that he believed President Miloš Zeman would, as a democrat, appoint a prime ministerial candidate agreed on by the coalition. However, Mr. Zeman would not be obliged to do so and he could ask somebody else to try to form a government. Indeed, the president has previously said he wished to see the back of the current cabinet. If agreement cannot be reached, Mr. Zeman may propose an interim government to rule until elections scheduled for next May. However, that could meet such strong opposition in the lower house that deputies would prefer to dissolve Parliament.
Former president Václav Klaus says the only way forward in the current situation would be the formation of a new political party or the radical transformation of an existing one. He told reporters on Monday everything needed to be done to return to real politics, which the events of the last week had distanced people from. At the same time, Mr. Klaus said the current non-parliamentary parties were either too small to make a difference or were far from representing a viable alternative.
Police in Germany have arrested two young men wanted for the murder of a taxi driver in Prague earlier this month. The two, aged 16 and 22, were detained on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the Czech authorities. They have been remanded in custody. They are accused of murdering the taxi driver, who was 39, in a particularly brutal manner and of robbery. They were on the run from a youth detention facility when the alleged killing took place. A Czech police spokesperson said they would likely be tried in their own country.
Forecasters have warmed of extremely high temperatures throughout the Czech Republic between now and Thursday. They say we can expect highs up to 36 degrees Celsius, coupled with hail and rain storms in the coming days. People have been told to restrict strenuous activities in the afternoons, avoid direct sunlight and make sure they consume sufficient quantities of liquids. Tens of Czech weather stations saw new temperature records on Monday.