The opposition right wing Civic Democratic Party has initiated a vote of no-confidence in the coalition government. The vote will take place on Friday, April 1st. The move comes in the wake of a drawn out government crisis over Prime Minister Stanislav Gross's private finances. Mr. Gross has been under pressure to resign from office and his re-election to the post of party leader this weekend broadened the rift within the governing coalition. The opposition Civic Democrats, who have been pushing for early elections, would need 101 votes to bring down the coalition government. The communists, whose votes are expected to tip the scales one way or another if the Christian Democrats walk out of the coalition government, will meet on Thursday to decide how to vote. Communist Party chairman Miroslav Grebenicek said he would try to convince the party to vote against the government.
The Christian Democrats, who are no longer willing to accept Mr. Gross as head of Cabinet, are to decide at their party conference on Wednesday whether the party should leave the government. Their departure would leave the Prime Minister with a minority government. The third party in the Gross government, the Freedom Union, said on Tuesday it would support the government in return for a promise that the Cabinet would propose a proper conflict of interests bill by June 1st. However its deputies say they would re-think their decision if the Gross government had to rely on communist support. The Prime Minister's problems began when he failed to explain how he had paid for his luxury flat in Prague six years ago and when it came to light that his wife had a business partnership with a woman being investigated for alleged fraud.
President Klaus on Tuesday met with Prime Minister Stanislav Gross to discuss the government crisis. The President's spokesman said the meeting took place at the Prime Minister's request. No details have been released to the press and the President has said he will not comment on the situation at present.
The chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek has said that the state-controlled landline operator Cesky Telecom should be privatised through stock-market floatation. According to Mr Topolanek the opposition has no influence on the methods of privatisation of Cesky Telecom. Prime Minister Gross said at the weekend that the government should decide on the sale of Cesky Telecom as soon as possible. All four remaining bidders, the telecommunication companies Swisscom, Belgacom, Telefonica of Spain, and the financial consortium Blackstone/CVC/Provident, which has partnered with France Telecom, submitted their binding bids on Tuesday.
Wednesday should be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered showers and day temperatures between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius.
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