European center-right concerned by Czech government formation

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 16, 2013 12:42 PM
European center-right concerned by Czech government formation

PRAGUE (Reuters) - A group of European center-right parties criticized Czech President Milos Zeman on Tuesday for forming a government against the will of the political parties and called on the European Commission to examine if he breached European values.

Zeman appointed a cabinet led by his adviser Jiri Rusnok last week, following the resignation of center-right Prime Minister Petr Necas over a bribery and illegal surveillance scandal.

The appointment angered both the outgoing center-right coalition, which says it commands a thin majority in parliament and demands the right to form another cabinet, and the opposition Social Democrats, who are calling for an early election.

"Forming a government which has no majority in parliament does not contribute to the stability of the Czech Republic and is tantamount to disrespecting the principles of the Lisbon Treaty", European Parliament Vice-President Othmar Karas and the chairman of foreign affairs committee Elmar Brok said.

The Lisbon Treaty is the basis of European Union law.

"The European Commission, as the guardian of the Treaties, must look into this," the members of the European People's Party said in a joint statement.

The Czech opposition and constitutional lawyers say Zeman did not break the letter of the law but went against a convention under which past presidents appointed prime ministers who had pre-negotiated backing in parliament.

The former leftist prime minister Zeman has said he felt he had a strong mandate as the country's first directly elected president and felt free to change the conventions.

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He said on Tuesday there was nothing in the constitution that demanded that governments must have support from parliament before being appointed.

Rusnok has to ask parliament for a confidence vote by early August, and said he would negotiate with parties to win support.

He has only a small chance of winning, although some leftist politicians have said they may give him votes if there was a wider agreement on holding an early election ahead of regular polls in May next year. This would still not be enough for him to win if the center-right coalition holds together.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Michael Roddy)