New Czech and Slovak governments: How do they match up?

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Prague – Coalition governments in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are being formed almost simultaneously. Both successor states of former Czechoslovakia will have center-right governments with significant fiscal austerity agenda, led by the parties that came second in the polls, and both PMs are former ministers of social affairs.

Next week on Tuesday 13 July, Czech President Václav Klaus is expected to sworn in the  government of Petr Nečas from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS). His Slovakian counterpart Ivan Gašparovič appointed the cabinet of Iveta Radičová already this week.

However, there are also some differences.

The Slovakian government coalition consists of four parties: the Slovakian Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party (SDKÚ-DS), Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), Christian-Democratic Movement (KDH) and Hungarian party Most-Híd („bridge” in Slovakian and Hungarian respectively). Both SaS and Most-Híd are newbies of the Slovakian politics – they have never participated in a legislative election before.

The Czech coalition will consist of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and two minor parties – the conservative TOP 09 and centrist Public Affairs (VV). As in the case of Slovakia’s SaS and Most-Híd, TOP 09 and VV have never participated in a legislative election before. However, while TOP 09 is mostly composed of former members of the Christian Democrats, many of which have strong political experience, VV has always been active only on the local political level.

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In addition, both Slovakian SaS and Czech TOP 09 both share very strict fiscal austerity economic agenda.

Comfortable majority for Czech coalition

The Slovakian coalition controls 79 out of 150 seats in the National Council of Slovakia, and thus has a relatively fragile majority of only 4 seats. The Czech coalition can be more confident – its 118 seats out of 200 gives it a comfortable majority. Thus, the government has an opportunity to implement important reforms that have been postponed for years, such as a pension system reform.

In 2006, the legislative election in the Czech Republic produced a much more fragile result – a stalemate of 100 vs 100. The deadlock was solved by some Social Democratic lawmakers joining the center-right coalition led by the ODS.

Coalition talks

The coalition talks in Slovakia have been relatively quick – only 24 days were needed for the center-right parties to sign a coalition treaty. The poll took place on 12 June 2010, the treaty was signed on 6 July.

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In the Czech Republic, the poll took place on 29 and 30 May 2010, hence two weeks before the election in Slovakia, and the three parties have not signed their coalition treaty yet.

However, President Klaus has already stated he will sworn the government in next week.

Yes to austerity, No to corruption

What are the main policy objectives of the governments currently being formed?

In Slovakia, the coalition wants to implement a public finances reform, curb Slovakia’s sovereign debt, fight corruption and nepotism, make public bids more transparent, abolish public-service TV and radio license fees, improve the relations with Hungary, and to limit parliamentary immunity only to speeches at the parliament.

The government of Mr Nečas has its priorities in its unofficial name: the negotiations always speak of the “government of fiscal responsibility, rule of law and fight against corruption”. The parties have already agreed on restricting social benefits, introducing university fees, or reducing mortgage payment subsidies.

However, the government assures there will be no tax hikes and pensions will be adjusted to inflation.

The Slovakian government will have two women – PM Iveta Radičová and Justice Ministry Lucia Žitňanská, both from SDKÚ-DS. On the contrary, the Czech government will be a men-only club, even though Czech voters showed clearly in the poll that they want women in politics. Out of the 200 members of the lower chamber, 44 are women, many of them elected by preferential voting.


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Read more: After election:Czechs to become Europe’s reform leaders

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