The Czech government has lost a vote of confidence mid-way through its tenure of the rotating EU presidency.
The centre-right coalition of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has been vulnerable since its appointment two years ago due to its lack of a majority in parliament. The toppled Topolanek was asked if the situation would disrupt the EU presidency. He said that from the European Council’s point of view, no, it would not cause any major complication. However. he added that it could damage the Czech Republic’s negotiating power within the EU, that the Czech position will be weakened. The no-confidence vote was a victory for left-wing opposition leader Jiri Paroubek. His Social Democrats have accused the government of economic mismanagement and criticised tax, health and budget reforms. However Paroubek said that Topolanek’s coalition should be allowed to see out the rest of the EU presidency. The Czech Republic hands over to Sweden at the end of June. Some European observers say the Czech crisis won’t change much on an EU level, as Prague’s leadership in the first three months has been weak. But the situation casts real doubt on the future of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which Topolanek has supported but which parliament still needs to ratify. Brussels will be keeping a close eye on what happens next in Prague.