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28/08/2016

Czech PM resigns, early elections to be held

Elections

Czech PM resigns, early elections to be held

Rusnok left, Zeman right.jpg

The Czech cabinet dominated by allies of leftist President Miloš Zeman resigned yesterday (13 August) after losing a confidence vote last week, clearing the way for early elections that could resolve a political deadlock.

The main parties have been locked in battle with Zeman since June, when he named ally Ji?í Rusnok, against their wishes, to head a new cabinet after the previous centre-right government collapsed under the weight of a spying and bribery scandal.

Squabbling has crippled policymaking for nearly two months as the economy struggles to recover from recession.

Zeman accepted the resignation and said Rusnok, an economist, would stay on in a caretaker capacity "until the formation of a new government which I hope will come from a free election".

Leftists parties stand the best chance of winning an early election, according to opinion polls, a result that could return the Social Democrats to power for the first time since 2006.

The lower house will meet on 20 August and is expected to vote on a motion to dissolve parliament.

Zeman will then be expected to dissolve the house within a few days and call a new election within 60 days, possibly in mid- to late-October.

Background

Miloš Zeman, a centre-left former prime minister, won the Czech Republic's first direct presidential election on 26 January 2013, marking a departure from the departing eurosceptic President Václav Klaus.

Zeman easily defeated his conservative opponent, Karel Schwarzenberg, the foreign minister.

Zeman, an economic forecaster who was a Communist party member before the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, has steered the Czechs closer to Europe's mainstream. The anti-EU Klaus succeeded the late playwright Václav Havel, a dissident who became the country's first post-communist president.

Timeline

  • October 2013: Czech Parliamentary elections expected
  • 22-25 May 2014: European Parliament elections