Czech coalition party to join opposition


The Czech Republic’s minority government faces a tough start to 2013, after a party in the ruling coalition pledged to join the opposition following the dismissal of its leader as defence minister.

Czech prime minister Petr Necas sacked Karolina Peake (37), head of the Lidem party, just eight days after she started the job.

She angered Mr Necas and Czech president Vaclav Klaus by firing three senior defence officials, including Vlastimil Picek, the Czechs’ chief negotiator in talks with Sweden to extend the lease on 14 Gripen fighter aircraft.

“My confidence in her dropped not to zero but into negative readings . . . Madam minister acted as if the ministry was conquered enemy territory . . . It was a stabilised, well-functioning department, there was no reason for any spasm,” Mr Necas said.

Ms Peake issued a stinging response: “If some men thought that some other men will oversee the new girl at the ministry, and I didn’t act according to their plans, then they should have told me about that beforehand.”

Leaving cabinet

Ms Peake added: “I suppose that this means departure to opposition. Our ministers got clear instruction from the leadership to leave the cabinet on January 10th. I assume we would discuss how to vote in a no-confidence motion when the situation comes up.”

Lidem had three ministers in a cabinet dominated by the centre-right Civic Democrats, a party formed by Mr Klaus and now led by Mr Necas.

Without the backing of Lidem deputies, the government could only count on the support of 90 members of the 200-seat parliament.