Yesterday evening the three parties in the governing centre-right coalition in the Czech Republic decided to end their cooperation with effect from this coming Friday. Details of the agreement were not made public. This decision follows the disintegration of the smallest of the parties, Public Affairs, after the conviction of its founder for corruption. Public Affairs will now leave the government, but its MPs will continue to vote for measures already agreed. A new breakaway faction of Public Affairs is hoping to join the government, and is currently trying to gain enough parliamentarians to give the government a majority, albeit reduced. The alternative to a majority government would be early elections this summer. Despite tough talk from the Prime Minister, Petr Necas, the two remaining coalition parties are unlikely to want early elections at this stage, as they are trailing in the polls, and it is more probable that every attempt will be made to cobble together a new agreement that can last at least a few more months.
These developments come against a background of increasing concern at the government’s programme of cuts. Saturday saw a massive demonstration, organised by the trade union movement and several NGOs, in the centre of Prague, with estimates that over 100,000 people turned up. Demonstrators denounced the government’s policies, called for a clampdown on corruption and called for the resignation of the government and early elections.