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Europe

Czech Government Could Collapse, Says Premier

The Czech government could collapse this autumn, months before it takes on the European Union's rotating presidency, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek was quoted as saying.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek

Topolanek said the coalition may crumble by autumn

"If [the coalition] does not sort itself out by the summer and adhere to its majority, autumn could see the end of the government," the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes reported him as saying on Saturday, June 7.

Dissenters within Topolanek's center-right coalition jeopardized the government's fragile majority in several parliamentary votes earlier this week.

Topolanek's coalition secured 100 of the 200 lower house seats in the June 2006 general election and won a vote of confidence seven months later only with help of two opposition defectors, who have since become independents.

Dissidents in all three coalition parties -- Topolanek's right-wing Civic Democrats, the centrist Greens and Christian Democrats -- are threatening to derail votes on budget-tightening reforms, a plan to host US missile defense radar and a scheme to compensate churches for properties seized during the communist era.

The fragile government, whose four-year term expires in 2010, is due to preside over the EU in the first half of 2009 at a time when the 27-member bloc is to start overhauling its institutions.

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