Czech party leaders agree on interim cabinet

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Leaders of the main Czech political parties agreed on Sunday to form an interim cabinet to run the country until an early election, probably in October, outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said.

He said he would propose non-partisan Jan Fischer, head of the statistical office, to lead the caretaker cabinet.

Topolánek’s minority centre-right government lost a no-confidence vote on March 24, halfway through the central European country’s six-month European Union presidency. 

The government’s collapse undermined the presidency and hurt policymaking amid a sharp economic downturn.

“We want this news to give reassurance to the public that we will have a stable government until an early election,”  Topolánek told a news conference after talks with other political parties.

He said an early election would most probably be held on 9-10 October, brought forward from mid-2010.

The agreement is subject to approval by leaderships of the three parties in  Topolánek’s centre-right coalition and the leftist opposition Social Democrats, which is expected in the coming days.

The Social Democrats said they were happy with the choice of the 58-year-old Fischer.

“This is a consensual proposal. Mr. Fischer is a very experienced civil servant,” Social Democrat chief Jiri Paroubek said.

The cabinet will have to be approved by Eurosceptic President Václav Klaus, who has the sole right to appoint prime ministers. Klaus has said he would respect an agreement among the main political parties, who together have a comfortable majority in the lower house of parliament.

Fischer’s cabinet should take over from Topolanek on 9 May. The Czech EU Presidency ends on 30 June.

The agreement, if finalised, would remove speculation among some analysts that Klaus could appoint a Eurosceptic cabinet that may halt pending ratification of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, meant to streamline decision-making in the 27-member bloc.

(EURACTIV with Reuters)

The Czech Republic was thrown into political turmoil last month when the minority government of Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek was ousted by a vote of no-confidence in Parliament (EURACTIV 25/03/09). 

The government's collapse has undermined the country's position as holder of the EU presidency, strengthened the role of Eurosceptic President Václav Klaus, and raised doubts about ratification of the EU's Lisbon Treaty.

Topolánek's government, which comprises his Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Greens (SZ), does not have a majority in parliament and relies on a dozen independent MPs to pass its proposals. 

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