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Europe

Lawmakers agree on interim cabinet

Latest update : 2009-04-06

Czech lawmakers have agreed to form an interim cabinet after outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek lost a no-confidence vote. Topolanek said he would propose Jan Fischer, the non-partisan head of the statistical office, as cabinet leader.

REUTERS - Leaders of the main Czech political parties agreed on Sunday to form an interim cabinet to run the country until an early election, probably in October, outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said.

 

He said he would propose Jan Fischer, the non-partisan head of the statistical office, to lead the caretaker cabinet.

 

Topolanek's minority centre-right government lost a no-confidence vote on March 24, halfway through the central European country's six-month European Union presidency.

The government's collapse undermined the presidency and hurt policy-making amid a sharp economic downturn.

 

"We want this news to give reassurance to the public that we will have a stable government until an early election," Topolanek told a news conference after talks with other political parties.

 

He said the government's duties would be to complete the presidency, prepare the 2010 budget and help push through measures against the economic downturn.

 

Topolanek said an early election would most probably be held on Oct. 9-10, brought forward from mid-2010.

 

The agreement is subject to approval by leaderships of the three parties in Topolanek's centre-right coalition and the leftist opposition Social Democrats, which is expected in the coming days.

 

The Social Democrats said they were happy with the choice of the 58-year-old Fischer.

 

"This is a consensual proposal, Mr. Fischer is a very experienced civil servant," Social Democrat chief Jiri Paroubek said, adding none of the outgoing ministers would keep their posts.

 
 
Fischer ready to take over
 

The cabinet will have to be approved by Eurosceptic President Vaclav Klaus, who has the sole right to appoint prime ministers. Klaus has said he would respect an agreement among the main political parties, who together have a comfortable majority in the lower house of parliament.

 

Fischer, who has worked at the statistical bureau since graduating from the statistics and econometrics in 1974, will accept the nomination if Klaus agrees, his spokesman said.

 

Fischer's cabinet should take over from Topolanek on May 9. The Czech EU presidency ends on June 30.

 

The Czech government collapse was the result of personal rivalries and defections from the government camp over the past months and has less to do with the global financial crisis that felled governments in Hungary and Latvia.

 

The country has seen a drop of more than a fifth in industrial output and exports, but its banks have been stable and the currency recovered from losses earlier this year, thanks to low overall debt and low exposure to foreign credit.

 

If Fischer is confirmed in office it would end speculation among some analysts that Klaus might appoint a Eurosceptic cabinet that could halt ratification of the EU's Lisbon treaty, meant to streamline decision-making in the 27-member bloc.

 

The treaty has been ratified by vast majority of EU member states. It still has not been signed by the Polish president and it faces a constitutional challenge in Germany.

 

The Irish rejected the treaty in a referendum but plan to hold a new vote later this year. The upper house of the Czech parliament is expected to vote on it in late April or early May.

 

 

Date created : 2009-04-06

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