Czech coalition partner backs Nemcova as PM candidate

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 21, 2013 10:26 AM
Czech coalition partner backs Nemcova as PM candidate

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The junior party in the Czech ruling coalition, TOP09, backed a plan on Friday to nominate parliamentary speaker Miroslava Nemcova as the new prime minister following Petr Necas' resignation in a spying and bribery scandal.

The center-right coalition is trying to form a new government after police charged eight people including Necas's closest aide, some with bribery and some with illegal spying on several people including the prime minister's wife.

President Milos Zeman, a leftist who has criticized the outgoing cabinet, has the sole right to appoint a prime minister. He has not said if he would accept Nemcova or pick a prime minister of his choice.

The president started a meeting with party leaders on Friday and plans to announce his decision on Tuesday.

TOP09 backed Nemcova but at the same time demanded that the Civic Democrats quickly find her replacement as the head of the lower house, indicating there was horse-trading to be done in the days ahead.

"The Civic Democrats have to realize that the situation is serious and that they have to take the coalition partners into account," TOP09 Chairman Karel Schwarzenberg told reporters.

The acting Civic Democrat chief, Martin Kuba, said he was ready to discuss the issue with TOP09.

The Civic Democrats took a severe hit in popularity after the scandal broke out, an opinion poll showed on Friday.

The aide to Necas, Jana Nagyova, is charged with ordering illegal spying. Prosecutors also accuse her of offering bribes, in the form of posts at state companies, to three parliamentary deputies last year for abandoning a rebellion against the prime minister.

A lawyer for Nagyova said she rejected some of the charges and said she had acted in good faith.

(Reporting by Robert Muller, Writing by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Angus MacSwan)