Prague - Seeing his initial support gradually disappear into thin air, Deputy Prime Minister Jiří Čunek, hounded by allegations of corruption and abuse of welfare, gave up today and announced his resignation from the cabinet.
The ruling coalition of his Christian Democratic Party (KDU-ČSL), Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and the Green Party in the meantime holds on.
Čunek announced his move after meeting his coalition partners earlier today, explaining he did not want to be perceived by the public as standing in the way of police investigation into his alleged corruption which was re-opened on the order of the General Attorney Renata Vesecká.
Coalition remains intact
"I am also doing it because I want this coalition to continue without being constantly questioned," Čunek added. He still maintains his innocence.
The threat of the coalition breaking up in case Čunek is forced to leave was played up earlier this year by his supporters within KDU-ČSL.
Neither Čunek, nor his fellow coalition leaders suggested today that such risk is imminent. In fact, it was KDU-ČSL's own Senate faction that called on Wednesday evening on Čunek to quit.
His departure was expected after Wednesday's turbulent events including Mr. Čunek's press conference where he maintained he did nothing wrong by claiming welfare in the 1990s while simultaneously depositing millions of Czech Crowns in his bank accounts, as exposed in Monday's investigative programme on Czech TV.
It was expected
According to the information made available to Aktuálně.cz Čunek met with Prime Minister Topolánek (ODS) late on Wednesday and was prompted by him to resign.
"Čunek quits on Wednesday. If he refuses to do so, he will be fired," a confidential source close to the Prime Minister told Aktuálně.cz hours before Čunek's announcement.
Initially, Čunek was asking for time until next Tuesday to come up with full explanation of his murky financial affairs of the past.
He may as well keep it for himself now unless he still believes he can stage a political comeback, something few people would bet their money on right now.