Czech PM Necas steps down over corruption scandal.

By bne IntelliNews June 17, 2013

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said he will resign on June 17 after his closest aide and alleged lover was charged with abuse of power and bribery in an unprecedented corruption scandal that erupted last week, CTK news agency reported. Necas, who will also step down as head of the senior ruling Civic Democratic Party (ODS), said that he wants the coalition government to remain in power until next year’s parliamentary elections due in May. According to Necas, the next government should be headed by a premier nominated by ODS. Industry and trade minister Martin Kuba, from ODS, said he is ready to take on the job if nominated by ODS.

"I am fully aware of the problems of my personal life burdening the political scene and the ODS at present," Necas was cited as saying late on June 16.

The latest crisis that rattled the already-shaky centre-right government of Necas and forced him to step down was triggered by police raids on government offices in which several officials from Necas’ ODS party were detained in the early hours of June 13.

The police have charged eight people, including Jana Nagyova, the head of Necas’ office, with corruption, among other alleged crimes. Other detained people include the government office head Lubomir Poul, former ODS MPs Petr Tluchor and Ivan Fuksa, Ondrej Palenik, the ex-chief of the military intelligence and Milan Kovanda, the current chief of the military intelligence. A court in the eastern city of Ostrava ruled Nagyova remain in custody pending trial. Nagyova has allegedly offered lucrative posts in state-controlled companies to Tluchor and Fuksa in exchange for them abandoning a rebellion against the government. Tluchor, Fuska were part of a group of ODS deputies that in November refused to back a key tax bill linked to a vote of confidence. But, after weeks of talks, they decided to give up their deputy mandates thus allowing the government to hold on to power. Additionally, Nagyova is accused of asking intelligence agents to spy on Necas’ wife. Last week Necas said he was divorcing her.

Necas, 48, who said he did nothing wrong, at first refused to resign but pressure on him to quit grew further with the leftish opposition calling for a vote of no confidence on June 18 unless he steps down and President Milos Zeman, a political rival, saying that the corruption charges were very serious and seemed well founded.

Necas centre-right government that also include conservative TOP 09 party and LIDEM was formed after the general elections in May 2010. The government's support in the 200-seat parliament has shrunk to just 98 votes from the original 118 as it saw its popularity slump amid a series of corruption scandals and due to its austerity drive that is largely to be blamed for the longest recession the economy is currently suffering. The coalition parties will need to secure at least half of the votes in the parliament to have a new government elected. The government managed to win the last no confidence vote in January with the votes of some independents meaning that they now can also support a new government led by ODS.

Under the Czech constitution, Zeman has the right to refuse to endorse the coalition’s nominee for prime minister and appoint a premier. Necas and his administration will stay on as caretakers until a new government is installed. If after three attempts there is no elected government or the parliament decides to dissolve itself, an early election will be held. The major opposition party Social Democrats (CSSD) will most likely win the snap vote as it has been topping opinion polls ever since the May 2010 elections.

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