Czech government parties must resolve a crisis in their ruling coalition by April 10 or face an early election, Prime Minister Petr Necas said on Wednesday. The centre-right cabinet has been hit by a threat from its smallest member, the centrist Public Affairs party, to quit the three-party grouping unless its demand for a cabinet reshuffle and judiciary policy changes are met.
"If there is no agreement on Tuesday, we are finished and we will go to an early election," Necas told reporters after a leadership meeting of his centre-right Civic Democrats.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) has rejected as blackmail and ultimatums the demands the junior ruling Public Affairs (VV) addressed to him today and said early polls should take place as quickly as possible as it is the "cleanest solution".
The VV leadership called on the VV ministers yesterday to hand in their resignations as from May 1 to Necas. The VV said it is ready to continue cooperating with its coalition partners, the ODS and TOP 09, if Necas meets a list of its demands, including a revision of the coalition agreement, and reshuffles his cabinet by April 26.
"If the developments result in the government´s disintegration, I am not afraid of quick early elections. I´d consider it the most responsible solution for our country," Necas said.
He said the elections, if things go that far, should take place even sooner than this autumn when the regular regional and Senate polls will be held. The reason for this is the need to prepare a "trustworthy draft state budget" for 2013 which the government has to submit to the Chamber of Deputies by the end of September.
A government emerging from possible autumn elections could not manage it. "This would pose an immense threat to the country´s stability," Necas said.
An internal debate about the VV´s remaining in the government broke out in the party last week in reaction to a secret recording that appeared in the public. According to the VV, it "proves" that ODS and TOP 09 leaders helped the then VV MP Kristyna Koci prepare what has been known as last spring´s unsuccessful coup in the VV.
The ODS and TOP 09 have dissociated from the hints Koci makes in the recording.
Necas, who chairs the senior ruling ODS, told journalists that he rejects the VV´s blackmail and ultimatums.
"It is mainly the VV who makes the government untrustworthy. It should search its conscience. It has not proposed anything constructive in its resolution [today], but only set tasks for the others to meet," Necas said.
He said he expects VV leaders to tell him their position in person instead of via the media and to negotiate.
It is the VV who has started the game. It is the VV´s turn now. It must say what it actually wants. It is not clear from its resolution, Necas said.
Necas said the ODS will coordinate its further steps with its partners who observe the coalition agreement, i.e. with TOP 09.
TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek, too, said in reaction to the VV today that TOP 09 would not allow itself to be blackmailed.
If things go that far, the most honest solution would be an agreement on early elections, Kalousek said.
The idea of early elections has also been supported as the best solution by Lubomir Zaoralek, deputy head of the senior opposition Social Democrats (CSSD).
(Source: CTK, Reuters)