published: 06.09.2012, 00:14 | updated: 06.09.2012 05:42:17
Prague - There are several alternatives of how Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas can react now that rebels from his own party, the Civic Democrats (ODS), have sunk the government´s crucial tax package in the lower house of parliament, Daniel Kaiser writes in daily Lidove noviny today.
First, Necas can link the package, including a VAT increase, to a confidence vote, which would be a risky step, Kaiser writes.
Second, he can scrap the package. True, as a result the 2013 state budget would be short of 16 billion crowns, Kaiser writes.
In a country, where almost 40 billion crowns from the state budget are annually wasted on "renewable sources", it would have no sense for the cabinet to fall over a half of the sum, he says.
If the cabinet scrapped the tax package, it would strip the ODS rebels of the pretext that is transparent but defendable, Kaiser continues, alluding to the rebels´ argument that the VAT increase goes counter to the ODS´s programme and election promise.
Unfortunately, Necas and Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) stubbornly insist on the package, Kaiser says.
Third, Necas may pacify the rebels by offering certain guarantees to them, such as that the health minister would no longer enquire into the [controversial] contracts the VZP health insurer signed with the knowledge of Marek Snajdr, one of the rebelling deputies, Kaiser writes.
If Necas did so, he would gain peace for his cabinet in exchange for preventing the investigation of certain suspicious cases [linked to the ODS rebels]. Thereby he would follow the example of his predecessor Mirek Topolanek and his approach to the infamous corruption case of the then deputy PM Jiri Cunek, Kaiser writes.
Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) has given in to the rebels in the ODS who sank the government´s VAT-raising legislation in the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday, Petr Honzejk writes in Hospodarske noviny, commenting on Necas´s statements following the crucial vote.
On Tuesday, Necas still asserted that if the ODS rebels caused the tax rise proposal to fail in the lower house, the cabinet would submit it again unchanged and it would tie it to a confidence vote. On Wednesday evening, however, he spoke about possible changes and a possible compromise to be struck with the rebels, Honzejk points out.
This means that the incoherent group of [six or seven] ODS rebels include someone who really wants to topple the cabinet. Necas is tactically backpedalling in order not to provide a trustworthy pretext for the given rebel to eliminate the cabinet, Honzejk says.
The cabinet is likely to survive. On the other hand, it is impossible to give in [to rebels] forever. The chance of Necas, pursued by a staunch enemy, surviving as PM until the mid-2014 general election has further diminished after the vote on Wednesday, Honzejk concludes.
The Czech right, mainly the Civic Democrats (ODS), is faced with a very simple choice - either taxes will rise and the right will keep in power for some more time, or taxes will rise and the left will come to power, Jindrich Sidlo writes elsewhere in Hospodarske noviny.
The decision making in this situation is not that difficult, it is only necessary to find a way for all protagonists to keep their face, Sidlo writes, naming PM Petr Necas, rebels in his ODS and also Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) among the protagonists.
Anything can be agreed upon if politicians want to. The experienced political matadors among the tax affair´s protagonists would need one to two hours to reach agreement [on the controversial tax package opposed by some ODS MPs] that is necessary for the survival of the ODS-led cabinet, Sidlo writes.
The Czech right should try hard to keep in power for as long as possible and hope that by the next elections, scheduled for mid-2014, people will have forgotten most of the right´s hitherto performance, Sidlo writes.
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