Support for Czech ruling party at record low after scandal: poll

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 21, 2013 7:40 AM
Support for Czech ruling party at record low after scandal: poll

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Public support for the center-right Czech ruling party dropped to an all-time low after a bribery and spying scandal that forced Prime Minister Petr Necas to resign, an opinion poll showed on Friday.

Necas quit on Monday after his closest aide was taken into custody and seven other people were charged as part of a wider police campaign against graft.

The poll, conducted by the Factum agency after the scandal had erupted last week, showed support for the Civic Democrats had slumped to 8 percent from 14.5 percent last month.

The center-left opposition Social Democrats were on 29.3 percent, up from 24.9 percent, the poll showed.

The Civic Democrats are trying to form a new cabinet with lower house speaker Miroslava Nemcova as prime minister.

But appointing the next government is the responsibility of President Milos Zeman, a leftist who has opposed the Necas coalition and may push for a technocrat administration.

If there is no agreement between the president and the political parties, the parliament may vote to dissolve itself and hold a new election, which could take place this autumn. The election would normally be held next May.

Zeman was due to meet leaders of the Civic Democrats later on Friday to discuss the way forward.

The Factum poll showed the conservative junior coalition party TOP09 would win 15 percent of the vote, while the far-left Communists would get 16.1 percent.

Two smaller parties would also win seats in the lower house, the poll showed, creating several options for a majority coalition led by the Social Democrats. The Social Democrats have spoken in favor of higher taxes for utilities and high income earners and also back a fiscal stimulus to boost growth.

Necas's aide Jana Nagyova was charged with illegally ordering military intelligence to spy on several people including Necas's wife.

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 that she had acted in good faith.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka, editing by Gareth Jones)