March 24, 2009 / 6:20 PM / 10 years ago

ANALYSTS VIEW: Czech government loses no-confidence vote

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech center-right minority government lost a parliamentary no-confidence vote on Tuesday, which will force it to resign midway through the country’s six-month EU presidency.

However, the cabinet of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek can stay on until political parties agree on a way forward or until President Vaclav Klaus appoints a new administration.

Issues that the ouster can affect are a plan for a U.S. anti-missile radar site staunchly opposed by the Social Democrats and Russia, and the EU’s Lisbon reform treaty.

The following are comments from political and markets analysts following the no-confidence vote.

DMITRY ROGOZIN, RUSSIA’S ENVOY TO NATO

“The political parties which, theoretically, can now form a ruling coalition in the Czech Republic, have a far more good-neighborly attitude to Russia than Topolanek’s government,” Rogozin said in live comments to Vesti-24 channel.

“Those who today nudged Topolanek’s government to resignation are categorically against the deployment of the (U.S.) radar on the territory of the Czech Republic, because the anti-air missiles to be deployed in Poland will become practically blind. This whole (U.S. missile shield) system makes no sense without this radar.

“Just before the meeting of our two (Russian and U.S.) presidents in London on April 1 ... the Americans are now facing practically insurmountable difficulties in deploying their strategic anti-missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

GRAHAM WATSON, LEADER OF THE LIBERAL GROUP IN THE EUROPEAN

PARLIAMENT

“Though not an apologist for the current Czech government, I deeply regret that the Socialist opposition and a few ODS rebels have thought it fit to bring down the government at a time when their country is steering the EU through a profound financial and economic crisis and days before the new U.S. President arrives in Prague.”

“The no-confidence vote will also further delay the ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty. It is vital, in the interests of Europe as a whole, that the Czech Republic fulfill its duties as Presidency-in-office and complete the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.”

LARS CHRISTENSEN, ECONOMIST, DANSKE BANK

“Obviously this is bad news for the Czech markets. It is quite clear we have not had a strong government, but this throws the Czech Republic into a political crisis.”

“This also has a significant European dimension, which can add to nervousness.”

“This government always had a fragile majority... but this is not what happened in Latvia or Hungary, where economic disconsent (happened).”

“But on the other hand we have more uncertainty about Czech economic policy going forward. I still wouldn’t draw strong conclusions.”

PAVEL SARADIN, POLITICAL ANALYST, MASARYK UNIVERSITY

“For the EU presidency, this doesn’t mean much. The Social Democrats have said they will not block the government in the performance of its duties.”

“I think that if elections were to be tied to European Parliament elections, it wouldn’t be very realistic. It would hard to imagine that in July or August, when people are on holiday. The most likely ideal period would be sometime in September or sometime in the autumn of 2009.”

NEAL SHEARING, ECONOMIST, CAPITAL ECONOMICS

“It was always a weak coalition in the best of times and depended on opposition or independent deputies. But looking at the market reaction, the crown was sold off, so that would suggest it was a bit of a surprise.”

“The key to all these things is what happens next. Thinking through the scenarios, similarly like in Hungary, if we end up with a technocrat government... then it could end up being market positive. It’s all down to who we get now.”

“If on the other end you end up with a period of infighting it could be market negative and economy negative and could end up in a big mess.”

JIRI PEHE, POLITICAL ANALYST

“There are two things: One is that the role of President Klaus has been strengthened.”

“The second point concerns the European Union... The Czech presidency has basically already ended because I think it has become a formality.”

JAN KUBACEK, POLITICAL ANALYST,

“It is a slight surprise, but it really showed that the critical deputies have already chosen another path and think differently about the government’s future, giving a green light to negotiations and especially to the president, because now he will be the most important player.”

BOHUMIL DOLEZAL, POLITICAL ANALYST, CHARLES UNIVESRITY:

“What will follow now depends mainly on the president (Vaclav Klaus). The government is in resignation until the president appoints the new prime minister... which he can do whenever he pleases, the constitution does not bind him.”

“Regarding the (EU) presidency, there has been similar situation in Denmark or Italy, where the government even changed during the presidency... on the other hand these are established democracies.”

Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Michael Winfrey

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