President Vaclav Klaus has said he will start holding talks on the formation of a new Czech government on Thursday, the day after the current government are due to resign en masse. The government fell on Saturday when Vladimir Spidla announced he was stepping down as prime minister and leader of the Social Democrats, after a party vote of no confidence. Mr Spidla, who had been prime minister for two years, found himself under increasing pressure after his party's poor showing in European elections two weeks ago.
President Klaus, who cut short a foreign trip to discuss political developments in Prague, said on Sunday he would first hold talks with the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Civic Democrats.
The acting chairman of the Social Democrats, Stanislav Gross, is understood to favour forming a minority government with the Christian Democrats. The two parties were in a coalition with the Freedom Union under Mr Spidla. Mr Gross said he believed it was possible to form a government which would remain in office until the next general elections, which are due in 2006. He added that he was keen to avoid relying on the Communist Party, who have said they would support a minority government under certain conditions.
For his part, the leader of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, has said he is afraid Mr Gross will be less likely to distance himself from the Communists than Vladimir Spidla, who always refused to co-operate with them. Mr Topolanek called on Sunday for the formation of a caretaker government which would rule until the holding of early elections in the middle of next year. The Civic Democrats have been leading in polls of voter support for some time.
As for Mr Spidla's future, Stanislav Gross said on Sunday he hoped the outgoing prime minister would find room to advance his policies in both the Social Democratic Party and Czech politics in general. After he resigned on Saturday, Mr Spidla said he did not expect to be a member of any government formed by the acting chairman of the Social Democrats. Mr Gross also said he would like to hold talks with former party chairman Milos Zeman, who has strongly criticised both him and Vladimir Spidla.
Meanwhile, the Freedom Union have elected Pavel Nemec leader, after Petr Mares stepped down in the wake of very poor results for the party in recent elections to the European Parliament. Mr Nemec has been minister for local development in the outgoing coalition. He said on Sunday the Freedom Union were willing to discuss the establishment of a new government with all parties except the Communists.
Monday should be cloudy with rain in places and a maximum temperature of 25 degrees Celsius.
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