Czech PM to win confidence vote as rebels give up

Tue Nov 6, 2012 1:57pm EST
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By Robert Muller

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech center-right cabinet will survive a parliamentary vote of confidence on Wednesday after a group of backbenchers in the ruling center-right Civic Democratic Party gave up a rebellion threatening to bring down Prime Minister Petr Necas.

Necas has been struggling to keep afloat his cabinet, unpopular due to two years of austerity policies and a series of graft scandals, after defections wiped away his three-party coalition's parliamentary majority.

The government's focus on austerity has brought debt costs to an all-time low but also depressed domestic demand in an economy that has been in recession since late 2011, the worst performance in central Europe.

The lower house is due to vote on Wednesday on the cabinet's plan to hike value-added, income and other taxes to cut the budget deficit below 3 percent of gross domestic product next year, a move that sparked a rift in the government camp.

Necas paired the tax vote with a vote of confidence, which means a failure would lead to the cabinet's resignation.

But the dissenting deputies gave up their struggle against Necas on Tuesday, saying two of them would support the tax package while three would leave their parliamentary seats.

"I firmly believe that this conflict has been resolved by this step," Necas told reporters.

The victory will save Necas for now but given his weak position in parliament, the government will struggle to push through legislation and will remain vulnerable to further disloyalty and vetoes from the upper house of parliament, which is controlled by the center-left opposition.   Continued...

Czech Republic's Prime Minister and Chairman of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Petr Necas gives a speech during the party's congress in Brno November 4, 2012. REUTERS/Petr Josek