Destinations Magazine

Czech Politics: Power Grab

By Stizzard

ALMOST immediately after he took office in March, Milos Zeman, the Czech Republic’s president, began to test how far he could expand his power. He upset the foreign minister by interfering in the choice of new ambassadors and briefly blocked the professorship of a gay academic because he disapproved of his activism. More seriously, Mr Zeman is now taking advantage of the government crisis.After the resignation of Petr Necas, the centre-right prime minister, amid allegations of spying and corruption, Mr Zeman refused to appoint the coalition’s replacement candidate, Miroslava Nemcova, the parliamentary speaker. Instead he nominated a confidant, Jiri Rusnok, who, more than a decade ago, served him as finance minister. This week he swore in a cabinet led by Mr Rusnok.Mr Zeman’s move has infuriated the three centre-right parties, which have a slim majority in parliament, as well as many on the left. They accuse him of undermining parliamentary democracy and the Czech Republic’s reputation as an emerging economy that welcomes investors. Respekt, a weekly, ran a cover depicting Mr Zeman as a Roman emperor.Mr Zeman’s predecessors, Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Klaus, at times stretched the limits of their powers, but they always picked prime ministers backed by a parliamentary majority. However, Mr Zeman won the country’s first direct presidential election and…

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