[Marxism] Czech gov collapse sends shiver through Europe

Stuart Munckton stuartmunckton at gmail.com
Wed Mar 25 17:30:31 MDT 2009

Czech collapse sends shiver through Europe

   - * Paola Totaro Europe Correspondent *
   - March 26, 2009


EASTERN EUROPE, buffeted by the credit crisis, has been delivered another
crippling blow after the Czech Government, which holds the EU presidency,
lost a vote of no-confidence in its parliament.

The Czech Republic has been seen as one of the more economically stable
nations in an increasingly vulnerable region. The toppling of its coalition
government has sent a ripple of shock through Europe. It has kept a strong
handle on credit and has also managed to avoid the heavy reliance on
mortgages in foreign currencies, primarily to Austrian and Swiss banks, that
have plagued other countries such as Hungary.

Czech government collapses

The Czech government collapses after losing a parliamentary no-confidence
vote over its handling of the economic crisis.The minority centre-right
government of the Czech Prime Minister, Mirek Topolanek, is expected to
leave office after the country's term as European Union president finishes
in June. A new election will most likely be called then.

Mr Topolanek said in a statement he was ready to resign, although his
opposition, the Social Democrats, said the Government would be allowed to
continue governing until Prague hands over the EU's six-month rotating
presidency to Sweden.

As is the case with Italy, keen observers of the Czech political system know
that the possibility of a government collapse is often just around the
corner. The country, of almost 10 million people, has been led by Mr
Topolanek's Civic Democratic Party since 2006. During this time he has
survived four other confidence votes, most recently in December. The
collapse means the Czech Republic leadership will host the US President,
Barack Obama, during his first state visit to Europe next month - and
oversee the EU agenda - without the support of its own parliament.

"This is a humiliation for the Government that will now be hijacked by
internal political in-fighting," said Tomas Sedlacek, a leading economist
who was an adviser to the former president Vaclav Havel. "What kind of
respect can the president of the EU have in the eyes of the world when it is
led by someone who is politically dead, who is a political zombie?"

Meanwhile Mr Topolanek has taken the EU presidency on a collision course
with Washington over the economic options to solve the world economic
crisis, saying the US economic rescue plans are "a way to hell".

He said the Obama Administration's stimulus package and financial bail-out
"will undermine the stability of the global financial market".

The drama in Prague also comes at a time when EU leaders have yet to
conclude a united manifesto to respond to the global financial crisis and
while the Czech Republic remains undecided about whether it should support
the Lisbon Treaty, a European constitution of sorts.

Important, too, is the domestic debate over whether the Czech Republic
should continue with plans to host a component of a United States missile
defence shield. Earlier this month, the Government chose to temporarily
withdraw the controversial missile defence treaties from its parliamentary
ratification process. The Prime Minister said his coalition government had
made the decision because it could not muster enough support in the lower
house. He said the Government had not given up on the ratification process
and that the issue would be revisited after talks with Washington at the
NATO summit in April.

The Czech Parliament's upper house, the Senate, approved the tracking radar
project in December, but it is hugely unpopular. The planned base near
Prague would become part of a shield that Washington argues is needed to
prevent attack from Iran.

"The free market is perfectly natural... do you think I am some kind of
dummy?" — Jarvis Cocker

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" — Oscar Wilde

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