Richard North, 15/05/2005  

Don’t bet on it, though. In any case, presumably, the Czech government, presently headed by Jiři Paroubek, the third Prime Minister in nine months, will want to be the last to go. Then, with a bit of luck from their point of view, they can point to a solid or almost solid rank of yes votes and ask whether the Czechs want to be out of the swim.

In the meantime, Mr Paroubek, who became Prime Minister a couple of weeks ago, when Stanislav Gross had to resign to spend more time with his family and its rather interesting finances, has survived a no confidence vote in parliament. Just. The votes were 101 to 99.

The new Prime Minister is, naturally enough, making the fight against corruption as the centre plank of his government’s policy, though one rather wonders why. After all, if the Czech Republic wants to be a worthy member of the European Union, it ought to intensify its corrupt practices, at present amounting to rather small potatoes. (Or small beer, both being staples of the Czech diet.)

Somewhere along the line, Mr Paroubek has promised, his government will pave the way to a referendum on the Constitution (if it lasts long enough, as he did not add).

The campaign should be interesting as it would pitch the Prime Minister against the President, Vaclav Klaus being a known opponent of the Constitution and, indeed, the creation of a “country called Europe”.

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