Czech President to call early election in October

Friday 16 August 2013 23.27
Czech President Milos Zeman accepting the resignation of Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok
Czech President Milos Zeman accepting the resignation of Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok

Czech President Milos Zeman will call an early election in October if parliament votes to dissolve itself next week.

The Czech parliament is expected to make the move to try to end a political standoff that has paralysed decision making in the country.

The second election in three years looks set to usher in a new government led by the left-leaning, pro-European Social Democrats after the centre-right coalition collapsed because of spying and corruption allegations.

It could also mark a new role in policymaking for the Communist Party (KSCM), which has not had a share in power since 1989 when its totalitarian rule of Czechoslovakia ended.

The party's return to power could trigger protests among strident anti-Communists.

"In the event that the lower house will pass the motion for its dissolution on Tuesday, then I will call an early election for October 25 and 26," Mr Zeman told Halo Noviny newspaper.

The president's office confirmed the date.

Mr Zeman said he had decided to announce the date in Halo Noviny, which has personal ties to the Communist party, because of the party's backing of his prime minister, and longtime ally, Jiri Rusnok in a confidence vote earlier this month.

Mr Rusnok lost the confidence vote after the largest political parties on the left and right accused leftist Mr Zeman of trying to grab power when he appointed Mr Rusnok as prime minister in June.

There will be a vote on dissolving parliament on 20 August.

Most parties agree on an early election that should return the Social Democrats to power for the first time since 2006.

Polls show the party would win by a double-digit margin over the nearest contender but not gain a majority in the house.

The Social Democrats, which want to prepare for the euro and are more passionate about European integration than rightist rivals, won the most votes in the country's last election in 2010 but could not form a coalition.

To avoid a repeat, the party has said it will try to form a minority cabinet backed by - but not including - the far-left Communist party, which is running second or third in opinion polls.

It could also look for partners among smaller centrist or even centre-right parties.