Czech president appoints new government

Czech president appoints new government

PRAGUE - Agence France-Presse
Czech president appoints new government

President Zeman (L) wishes luck to the newly appointed minister. REUTERS photo

Czech President Milos Zeman appointed today a technocrat government led by his long-time leftist ally Jiri Rusnok in a controversial bid to end a political crisis sparked by a bribery and spy scandal.

Zeman, the Czech Republic’s first directly elected head of state, chose the 52-year-old economist last month to replace Petr Necas, a right-wing rival toppled amid the country’s longest ever recession.

“I would like to assure you we’ll do our best to ... serve the citizens of our country as best we can,” Rusnok told Zeman after the ministers were appointed.

Government unlikely to pass

But with parliamentary parties of all stripes feeling snubbed, Rusnok, who is not a legislator, is unlikely to win a confidence vote that must be held within 30 days of the appointment, which requires backing from a simple majority of lawmakers present.

The new Cabinet includes former Prime Minister Jan Fischer as the finance minister and deputy premier. The one-time head of the national statistics office was an also-ran in January’s presidential election.

 Jan Kohout, tapped as foreign minister, held the same post in Fischer’s Cabinet, while Defense Minister Vlastimil Picek, an army general, is the only member of the outgoing Cabinet to keep his job. “I can of course imagine the government will pass, but I don’t think it’s likely right now,” Pavel Saradin, a political analyst at the country’s Palacky University Olomouc, told Agence France-Presse. But even without a parliamentary go-ahead, the Cabinet could govern until the next regularly scheduled elections in May 2014 thanks to a constitutional loophole allowing Zeman to delay designating a new premier.