Christian Lutz/AP
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek

Czech Government Collapse Could Have Far-Reaching Impact

March 26, 2009 03:00 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
Mirek Topolanek's coalition has fallen, and analysts question how the collapse could impact the European Union and other crucial Czech foreign policy initiatives.

President Klaus Must Choose New Administration

The Czech parliament has racked up another no-confidence vote against the center-right coalition government led by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, which could have implications in neighboring EU countries, and impacts on the Lisbon Treaty. The vote could also affect a U.S. anti-missile plan.

According to Time magazine, Topolanek led a “fragile” government, the fall of which could have far-reaching effects. The prime minister has expressed disfavor with staying until June, when Sweden assumes the EU presidency, but a new candidate must win a majority vote before Topolanek can leave. A majority vote could be difficult to achieve in the Czech Republic's split parliament, Time reports.
The Czech constitution says that controversial Czech President Vaclav Klaus is required to choose members of the new administration, but if “three attempts to do so fail, early elections will be called,” according to the BBC.

The Czech Republic has crucial foreign policy decisions to deal with, including the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, chairing the European Council, and discussions with the United States over “placing a radar base on Czech soil,” all of which “are now thrown into doubt,” according to the BBC.

Qwidget is loading...

Background: No-confidence votes in Czech Republic

This latest no-confidence vote is “the fifth since the government took power with a three-party minority coalition in January 2007,” according to The Wall Street Journal, and is evidence of ongoing “political infighting” in the Czech Republic. The coalition has also been accused recently of mishandling the economic debacle, and the Czech parliament has allegedly been involved in a vote-buying scandal.

Opinion & Analysis: Economic fallout; impact on the United States

The Czech News Agency (CTK) spoke with financial analysts David Marek, an analyst at Patria Finance, who does not think the no-confidence vote will have a “major impact on the domestic financial markets.” Others, including Next Finance director Marketa Sichtarova, agree. Sichtarova told CTK that the fall of Topolanek's government could briefly lower the value of the crown, but should not impact other aspects of the economy.

The New York Times examined the potential implications of the fallout for the U.S., particularly regarding Topolanek's planned meeting with President Barack Obama in Prague set to happen in about two weeks. According to the Times, “Analysts said the collapse of the government would take the shine off the meeting ... which was intended to show that the United States and the European Union were united to save the global economy.”

Plans for a U.S. “missile defense installation” on Czech soil could be in jeopardy as well. “[T]reaties on the installation" were “temporarily” withdrawn by the Czech government earlier this month, due to the pressure of possibly being voted out. 

However, Topolanek's ouster could be good for Klaus, political analysts told the Times. Klaus’ skepticism of the EU, and recent criticism of Topolanek for urging “greater European integration” will receive greater attention now that the prime minister is out of the picture.

Related Topic: Vaclav Klaus

Klaus has emerged as a controversial figure, known for his arrogance and outspokenness regarding the European bank bailout, global warming and the Lisbon Treaty. In February, Klaus raised eyebrows for likening the European Union to the Soviet Union in a speech before EU legislators, and spoke out against global warming, dismissing former Vice President Al Gore's claims of “manmade greenhouse gases.”

Most Recent Beyond The Headlines