President Miloš Zeman has started a series of meetings with party leaders with regard to the ongoing government crisis. On Friday afternoon he received the Civic Democratic Party’s nominee for prime minister Miroslava Němcová and acting party leader Martin Kuba at his residence in Lány. It will be up to the president to decide who will be given a chance to form the next cabinet. The president has not indicated whether he plans to give the outgoing centre-right coalition another chance to form a government. Mr. Zeman plans to meet with the leaders of all parliamentary parties over the weekend and will make his position known at a press conference on Tuesday.
TOP 09 on Friday officially accepted Miroslava Nemcova as the centre-right coalition’s joint nominee for prime minister. However the party conditioned its approval by a meeting of coalition leaders on Sunday and stressed the need for the Civic Democrats to lose no time in proposing a suitable replacement for the post of speaker of the lower house. The acting chairman of the Civic Democrats Martin Kuba said his party would be willing to consider a TOP 09 candidate for the post.
The public trust rating of the centre-right Civic Democrats has dropped to an all time low in the wake of a crippling corruption scandal that resulted in the demise of prime minister Petr Necas and his resignation as party leader. According to the results of a flash poll conducted in the wake of the scandal, the Civic Democrats would only get 8 percent of the vote in general elections. The Social Democrats would win the elections with 29,3 percent of the vote and the Communist Party would come in second with 16.1 percent. TOP 09 would come in third with 15 percent. The only two other parties who would make it past the 5 percent margin needed to win seats in Parliament would be the Christian Democrats with 7.5 percent and the Party of Citizens’ Rights with 6.6 percent.
The Senate has approved a bill which would strip convicted MPs of their salaries. The bill still needs to be signed into law by the president. Once in force it will affect MP Roman Pekárek who is serving a sentence for corruption. Another jailed MP, David Rath, also charged with corruption, awaits trial.
Lower house speaker Miroslava Němcová says that in her view the police raid on government offices last week violated constitutional principles. In an interview for Friday’s edition of the daily Hospodářské Noviny, Mrs. Němcová criticized the fact that the country’s leading officials were kept in the dark for hours about the purpose of the raid and even after the police failed to provide any information which would justify such extreme action. She said that if she is appointed to lead the next cabinet she would ask the interior and justice ministries to look into the matter.
Ivan Fuksa, one of the three former Civic Democrat MPs who have been charged with corruption, has appealed the court ruling under which he was remanded in custody. The former deputy questions both the argument that he could influence witnesses and the very essence of the charges brought against him, on the grounds that accepting perks does not constitute a crime.
More than half of Czechs would prefer snap elections as a way of resolving the current government crisis, according to a poll carried out by Median agency for Czech Radio. The second most popular preference is to have an interim government manage the country until scheduled elections in May of next year. If a political government were to be chosen, 29 percent would prefer to see a prime minister from the Social Democratic Party and 22 percent would prefer a Civic Democrat to head the government. The current government crisis was triggered by the resignation of Prime Minister Petr Nečas, who left his post on Monday amid a huge corruption scandal involving his chief-of-staff.
The organized crime police unit suspects lobbyists Roman Janoušek and Ivo Rittig of having received overpriced contracts from state enterprises and smuggled millions of crowns into foreign accounts, according to Friday’s edition of Mlada fronta Dnes. Ivo Rittig allegedly received an overpriced contract from the forestry company Lesy ČR while Mr. Janoušek won an overpriced contract from the waterways management enterprise Povodí Vltavy and is suspected of extensive money laundering through his bank accounts and companies in Switzerland. Neither of the suspects has been detained and their lawyers told the press that the police had found no evidence of illegal activity during searches of their homes and offices.
President Zeman has fully met his financial obligations stemming from the presidential election campaign, the head of his office Vratislav Mynář told journalists on Friday. The president covered the final expenditures this week, thanks to a financial gift from the party of Citizens’ Rights which he set up and of which he is honorary chairman. The 35,000 crowns left on his campaign account will reportedly go to a children’s charity. In line with a new law on direct presidential elections, all candidates in the running had to have a transparent account.
Twenty rock’n’roll groups will perform at a charity concert in aid of flood victims which is taking place on Friday evening at the campsite Pražačka. Fans can look forward to Lemon Nashville and His Golden Killers, Slapdash and Lazy Bones, among others. Tickets cost 100 crowns and the proceeds will go to a flood account set up by the Czech Radio Foundation.