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Czech parties eye elections after government loses confidence vote

Czech voters could be heading to the polls in snap elections as soon as October. This comes after a technocrat government appointed by the president failed to win a confidence vote in parliament.

The opposition Social Democrats said on Thursday that they believed there was enough support in parliament to pass a motion for it to dissolve itself, paving the way for snap elections.

This came after the conservative TOP09 party declared that it would join the Social Democrats and the Communists in voting for a motion to dissolve parliament.

"We have these new votes guaranteed by TOP09," Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka said. "I really hope that ...other parties also join us. I think it would be a great signal for citizens."

The three parties combined hold a total of 122, seats two more than would be required to pass a vote to dissolve parliament.

The parliamentary speaker, Miroslava Nemcova of former Prime Minister Petr Necas' conservative Civic Democrats, said her party would also consider voting in favor of a motion to dissolve, which is expected to be put to parliament next week.

"I think there is no other, more dignified way out," Nemcova told reporters.

Under the Czech constitution, the president is required to call a new election within 60 days of a vote to dissolve parliament. The next regular election is scheduled for May.

No confidence in government

The government led by economist Jiri Rusnok lost a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday. After the defeat, Rusnok said he would officially hand in his resignation as prime minister later this week, but would be prepared to lead a the government up until a snap election, "implementing a common agenda that stirs no political controversy."

Czech lawmakers have been at loggerheads with the country's president, Milos Zeman, since he named Rusnok as prime minister last month, after Necas' government had collapsed amid a spying and bribery scandal.

Recent opinion polls indicate that the Social Democrats would easily win a snap election.

pfd/dr (AFP, Reuters)