Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A reality Czech?

The first of the new member states has announced that it may well have a referendum on the Constitution. The Czech Prime Minister, Stanislav Gross having barely survived a confidence vote in Parliament, has speculated that there might be a referendum in June 2006, possibly at the same time as the national elections.

Mr Gross has a problem. His ruling coalition is at sixes at sevens and, like numerous European governments, is not very popular. In the European elections they were trounced by the ODS, who oppose the Constitution, as do the Communists and the President of the Republic, Vaclav Klaus.

Parliament would have to pass a special law to allow a referendum, since there are no provisions for one in the Czech Constitution. Mr Gross has admitted in his annual speech to the ambassadors (do they all have them?) that it will not be easy to get the Czech people to approve the Constitution, but expressed confidence that they would probably vote ‘yes’, “if they are given sufficiently trustworthy information”. Oh boy, is he in for a shock!

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