Fischer to be appointed new Czech prime minister


Czech President Václav Klaus will appoint non-partisan Jan Fischer as prime minister today (9 April), ending a political crisis that toppled the minority centre-right cabinet and undermined the country’s EU presidency. Meanwhile, the Czech upper house is expected to vote on the bloc’s Lisbon Treaty by early May.

Fischer is expected to pick his ministers in the next few days, take over from Mirek Topolánek on 9 May and lead the country to an early election planned for October. The new administration will consist largely of non-party experts. 

Fischer’s cabinet will be backed by the two biggest parties, Topolánek’s right-wing Civic Democrats and the leftist opposition Social Democrats, which together control three quarters of the votes in the lower house of parliament.

Klaus’s spokesman said Topolánek and opposition chief Jiri Paroubek told him they had agreed on a new cabinet with majority backing.

“President Václav Klaus expressed satisfaction with the solution, which meets the demands he had formulated when the government resigned,” the spokesman said in a statement. 

The new cabinet will complete the six-month EU presidency (which ends on 30 June), and will stay in power only until a general election, which the parties agreed should be held on October 9-10, well before the scheduled election date in mid-2010.

Fischer, head of the Czech Statistical Office, said he would start putting a government together next week. He gave no details, but few if any current ministers are likely to remain.

Analysts said the government would be weak and have a very limited agenda, focused mainly on completing the EU presidency, preparing the 2010 budget and designing a response to the economic downturn.

As well as agreeing on Fischer, the two biggest parties agreed to support proposals on measures worth some 40 billion crowns ($1.99 billion) to fight the economic crisis, Social Democrat Vice-Chairman Milan Urban said.

Lisbon Treaty to be voted on in May

On the international side, Fischer will host the June EU summit. The Czechs have been criticised for not ratifying the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which would reform the way decisions are taken and approve the appointment of a long-term EU president.

The Czech upper house is expected to vote on Lisbon by early May, and may approve it despite opposition from a Eurosceptic wing of the main ruling party,Topolánek’s Civic Democrats. 

(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. 

  • 9 May: Fischer to take over from Topolánek.
  • May: Czech upper house expected to vote on Lisbon Treaty.
  • 18-19 June: EU summit in Brussels.
  • 30 June: End of Czech EU Presidency.
  • 9-10 Oct.: Scheduled date for new elections.

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