Czech lawmakers set to dissolve parliament

2013-08-20 17:18

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Prague - Czech lawmakers will meet on Tuesday for a vote likely to dissolve parliament, which would trigger snap elections and could end a political row now in its third month.

The turmoil erupted when former prime minister Petr Necas fell over a spy and bribery scandal in June. The president named a new government to fill the void but that technocrat cabinet lost a confidence vote earlier this month.

Three main parties petitioned for the dissolution vote on Tuesday, and analysts say they have the backing they need to succeed in the session beginning at 1200 GMT.

"I don't have a crystal ball to predict the result, but it seems there is a constitutional majority in parliament that is in favour of the dissolution," independent political analyst Jiri Pehe told AFP.

The three parties have 122 of the chamber's 200 seats, two more than the constitutional majority required to win the vote.

Under the constitution, President Milos Zeman must formally approve the dissolution and set an election date to follow within 60 days.

He said last week he would schedule the early elections for 25-26 October were parliament to dissolve itself.

Longest recession

The three parties backing that outcome are the far-left Communists, the right-wing TOP 09 and the left-wing Social Democrats - who polls show would easily win the snap vote.

"An early election held without delay will be advantageous for left-wing parties, because many voters have not yet forgotten their strong disillusionment with the Necas government," said Pehe.

Necas's centre-right government fell after his top aide and lover Jana Nagyova was charged with bribery and abuse of power.

Polls show that his right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) - the only top party not to have petitioned for the dissolution vote - paid dearly for the scandal and for its austerity policy.

The Czech Republic has just exited its longest recession ever, lasting 18 months.

A poll by the ppm factum agency on Monday showed that the Social Democrats would grab 21% of votes in an early election, while TOP 09 would have 10% and the Communists nine.

The Civic Democrats would end up with a mere 6%, according to the 12-16 August poll of 1 002 respondents.

"The two largest parties on the right, TOP 09 and ODS, reckon they will probably lose the early vote," said Pehe.

"But the early election will be more advantageous for TOP 09, which could become the dominant power on the right, at the expense of the battered ODS."

After Necas fell, Zeman - the first-ever directly elected Czech president and in office since March - named a technocratic cabinet led by left-wing ally Jiri Rusnok.

Appointed in July, the cabinet lost a confidence vote in parliament on 7 August.

Analysts say the political crisis has had little impact on the EU member's economy, which is heavily dependent on exports to the eurozone.

But the Czech central bank expects the country of 10.5 million people to post a 1.5% contraction this year.

Not yet a member of the eurozone, the Czech Republic is central Europe's third largest economy after Poland and Austria.

Read more on:    eurozone  |  eu  |  czech republic

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