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Czechs but no balances

Posted by Helen Monday, April 25, 2005

Another Czech Prime Minister bites the dust. Stanislav Gross, at 35 the youngest former European Prime Minister as of today, has resigned because of an ongoing financial scandal. It seems he has found it difficult to explain how he managed to buy and furnish a luxury apartment.

His successor Jiri Paroubek will head another coalition of the same parties and another government of the same ministers. In fact, this particular flap is not all that different from the Italian one, though at least the Czechs have acquired a new prime minister. Clearly, they have some way to go before they are fully integrated into European politics.

The “new” government remains pro-EU as the BBC puts it but what the Beeb’s journalists do not seem to realize is that the issue is the constitution and its ratification.

Notoriously, the Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, opposes the constitution and his former party, the ODS, has put forward a bill that calls for a referendum on the document this year.

The Social-Democrats, on the other hand, want to put into place a system of plebiscite being the new form of direct voting, though it is not clear how that would work in practice. Their idea is to have a referendum on the European constitution in tandem with the parliamentary elections of 2006.

Some Czech political analysts have been muttering cynically that the Czech Republic will want to be the last to vote, in order to see how the land lies first.