published: 23.08.2013, 17:22 | updated: 23.08.2013 17:31:00
Prague - The decision to call a Czech early general election for October 25-26 has been countersigned by Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok and the first session of the Chamber of Deputies in its new lineup will be held one month later, on November 28, President Milos Zeman said today.
During his talks with the heads of the Social Democrats (CSSD), the Civic Democrats (ODS), TOP 09, Communists (KSCM) and Public Affairs (VV) this morning, Zeman confirmed that he would formally dissolve the Chamber of Deputies on August 28.
The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, decided on its dissolution on August 20.
Zeman said lower house head Miroslava Nemcova (ODS) asked him to dissolve the house only on September 15 so that it might debate bills that the upper house might return to it. Nemcova wanted the early election to be organised on November 17.
Zeman said he rejected this view.
The Civic Democrats opposed the speedy dissolution of the lower house, arguing that the bill on reduced subsidies to solar plants and bills related to a new Civil Code might not be passed as a result.
Zeman said he and upper house chairman Milan Stech (CSSD) agreed that the Senate would not return the bills and that Zeman would not veto them.
When speaking of the date of the first lower house session following the election, Zeman said he believes a new government would be formed within several weeks after the election, not within months.
Zeman said he believes the final stage of the government-forming talks will start after an agreement on the leading posts of the Chamber of Deputies is made.
KSCM leader Vojtech Filip noted that the first post-election parliamentary session could not be held sooner than after one month because of the deadlines for election complaints and subsequent court decisions on them.
TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg said his party was satisfied with the dates set.
Schwarzenberg said Zeman today explained the party leaders why he has chosen the given dates.
CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka said the Social Democrats would try to help make the Chamber of Deputies function again after the elections as soon as possible.
According to the latest polls, the CSSD is a clear favourite of the election. It is followed by TOP 09 or the KSCM.
After the spying and bribery scandal implicating former prime minister Petr Necas (ODS) who was forced to resign in mid-June, the poll ratings of the ODS have plummeted to the current 6-13 percent.
The 5-percent threshold to enter the Chamber of Deputies may also be crossed by the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), the Party of Citizens' Rights - the Zemanites (SPOZ) and billionaire Andrej Babis' ANO movement.
The media has written that former president Vaclav Klaus may make a political comeback. However, a latest poll showed that 72 percent of Czechs oppose his return.
Zeman, who is SPOZ honorary chairman, said today he would not get involved in the election campaign. He nevertheless said he would cast his vote for the SPOZ.
Zeman said he believes the victorious party would take into account the preferential votes of its candidates when nominating the prime minister.
His statement seems to concern Sobotka who has had repeated disputes with Zeman. CSSD first deputy chairman Michal Hasek, who is closer to Zeman, received more preferential votes than Sobotka in the previous election in 2010.
Both Sobotka and Hasek will be running in the South Moravian Region in the forthcoming election again. Hasek is the region´s governor.
Zeman also said he will "absolutely respect" the election results. He said he would, for example, name former finance minister and his fierce critic Miroslav Kalousek prime minister if the conservative TOP 09 won the election and nominated Kalousek for the post.
But Zeman said he would appoint neither Kalousek nor Sobotka to the post of prime minister if TOP 09 and the CSSD allied after the election because he would consider such a coalition a betrayal of the voters of these two parties.
He pointed to the TOP 09-CSSD current alliance at the Prague City Hall.
As CSSD prime minister in 1998, Zeman made a power-sharing pact with the rival ODS that lasted four years.
Sobotka said in reaction that he can rule out a government coalition of the CSSD and TOP 09. He indicated that TOP 09 would hardly cooperate in the dismantling of its own right-wing reforms that the CSSD has been planning.
Schwarzenberg said Zeman´s words showed that the country is moving away from parliamentary democracy.
"If Czech politics reached the point where the president can tell a political party with whom it cannot form a coalition, we moved towards authoritative rule," Schwarzenberg said.
TOP 09 lower house group head Petr Gazdik previously ruled out a coalition with the Social Democrats.
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