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Czech President Zeman Says He May Reject Candidate for Premier

June 19, 2013

Czech President Milos Zeman said he may reject a ruling-coalition candidate for prime minister and early elections are a possible solution to a political crisis sparked by spying and bribery allegations.

Zeman, the Czech Republic’s first directly elected head of state, became a leading figure in shaping the future government after the scandal forced Premier Petr Necas to resign on June 17. Zeman will now pick the head of the Cabinet who will seek to win parliamentary confirmation.

The parties that formed Necas’s three-way coalition are trying to narrow the field of candidates. They are maneuvering to prevent an early election sought by the poll-leading opposition Social Democrats, who pledged higher taxes and more state spending to bring the $217 billion economy out of recession.

Necas’s Civic Democrats so far haven’t proposed anybody as a candidate, “and I want to emphasize that it would be a candidate, not the premier,” Zeman said at a news conference broadcast by state television today. “It would be overly self-confident to think that someone who is a candidate will automatically become premier.”

The political turmoil erupted June 13 after nighttime police raids resulted in the detention of eight people including Jana Nagyova, the head of Necas’s office.

She is charged with abuse of power in ordering the illegal surveillance of three people and is linked to a bribery case in which prosecutors say former members of parliament were offered jobs at state-controlled companies. She rejects the charges of abuse of power and will appeal the court decision to keep her in custody, her lawyer Eduard Bruna said.

Zeman’s Options

Zeman will meet the leaders of political parties starting on June 21 to hash out the options, while Necas remains as caretaker prime minister until his successor is named.

There are arguments for and against early elections and the president has several options, which include accepting a candidate who will demonstrate a majority support in the lower house of parliament, according to Zeman.

The current coalition, which controls 98 seats in the 200-member parliament, needs to secure a simple majority in the assembly to install a new government. It has relied on the votes of former coalition deputies who defected their parties to pass legislation.

The three parties said their priority is to create a new Cabinet together and keep the Social Democrats from forcing a snap ballot.

Nagyova, who has worked with Necas since at least 2006, was charged along with seven other people, including the former and current heads of military intelligence. During the raids, officers from the organized crime police unit seized as much as 150 million koruna ($7.8 million) in cash and some gold after raiding 31 homes.

Prosecutors suspect that Nagyova ordered surveillance of Necas’s wife and two other people, Bruna said by phone yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Laca in Prague at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

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