>Czech minority government loses confidence vote – over to Klaus…

>As widely expected the Czech minority government of Miroslav Topolánek failed to win a vote of confidence last night, losing 99 votes to 96, and now falls. Communists and Social Democrats voted solidly against and, as expected the government was backed by the Greens and – interestingly – some Christian Democrats. Other Christian Democrats abstained. Ironically, as one Social Democrat was ill, if the ‘right’ had voted en bloc they might have squeaked it.

Now the ball is back in President Klaus’s court and he gets his second (and final) go at appointing a Prime Minister. Topolánek wants a second throw of the dice, but I suspect Klaus will want to orchestrate and broker much more actively to ensure that a second government can win a vote of confidence. This is because a) he wants a reasonably predictable situation in parliament – and some duly grateful MPs – in place least until February 2007 he will be seeking re-election by parliament; and b) the third and final attempt at government formation is the prerogative of the Speaker of the lower house, a Social Democrat, giving the crafty ex-Social Democrat PM Paroubek a crack at cobbling together a minority government propped up by the Communists. All he would need would be the vote one maverick Christian Democrat or Green MP and he would be back in office…

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