Prague - Czech PM Petr Nečas (ODS) today met with Czech President Václav Klaus to ask him to sign the resignation of Transport Minister Vít Bárta and the suspension of Education Minister Josef Dobeš and Interior Minister Radek John.
All three ministers are from Public Affairs, a junior member of the center-right government. The party is currently going through a serious personal crisis over corruption allegations.
In addition, Czech media last week revealed further information about the link between the party and ABL, an influential security agency founded by Transport Minister Vít Bárta. Bárta is also widely considered the party's gray eminence and real leader, although the official chairman is Interior Minister Radek John.
However, Klaus said he will accept the resignation of the ministers only after PM Nečas provides him with a credible plan for the future existence of the government, above all how he is going to get necessary support for his reconstructed cabinet in the parliament.
Klaus is using his constitutional right - he has to accept the resignation of the ministers at the end, but he can delay it.
Aktualne.cz has learned that one of the more probable variants for PM Nečas is the split of the parliamentary club of Public Affairs, with the rebels supporting the government of ODS and TOP 09, the two larger government members.
Kristýna Kočí, Stanislav Huml, and Jaroslav Škárka have already left the Public Affairs club of deputies - these are the first possible supporters of the remodeled government.
"We rely also on other level-headed deputies who will not want to stay in the party that bribes people into loyalty and is controlled by security agency ABL," a member of one of the government parties said on condition of anonymity.
He was referring above all to three members of the Public Affairs club of deputies who are not actual members of Public Affairs - they only run for the somehow centrist party in the 2010 legislative elections, but are members of liberal SNK-ED.
"We communicate with our deputies. We think they should leave the club. But I understand they are under an immense pressure, it is not a question of hours or days, but rather weeks," deputy chairman of SNK-ED Jiří Witzany said to Aktualne.cz. However, all three lawmakers in question officially say they stay in the Public Affair club of deputies.
Another possible "rebel" is Public Affairs deputy Jana Suchá, who has openly voiced her displeasure over the atmosphere in the party. However, Suchá too denies any possibility of leaving the club.
Even the official stance of PM Nečas is that the coalition treaty is still valid and the government still counts on the support from the Public Affairs club of deputies for its future plans.
Even with the seven "rebels" splitting from the Public Affairs parliamentary club and supporting the government of ODS and TOP 09, the government would still have only the tiniest possible majority of 101 out of 200 seats. Relying on the same fragile majority, the government of Mirek Topolánek (ODS) that emerged from the 2006 elections failed to complete its full electoral term.
Also, Czech President Václav Klaus has repeatedly stated that he strictly refuses any government supported by "turncoats".
Politicians asked by Aktualne.cz expect the same development that took place at the end of 2010, when President Klaus accepted the role of mediator and solved the conflict in the coalition under conditions that were never fully disclosed. Eventually, Klaus denied there was any "secret agreement".
"We have some demands"
Radek John, the chairman of Public Affairs, says that his party demands the resignation of Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09), Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra (ODS), and Agriculture Minister Ivan Fuksa (ODS). All these ministers have been involved in corruption scandals recently.
If these ministers go, Public Affairs will accept the suspension of its own ministers and will support the reshuffling of the government, said John.
"If Mr Prime Minister suspends our ministers and do not accept our terms, we will understand it as a de facto denouncement of the coalition treaty," said Karolína Peake, a new chairwoman of the club of deputies of Public Affairs, in an interview with Aktualne.cz. Peake replaced Kočí, who was expelled from the post.
Radek John admitted that if their conditions are not met, the party could support Social Democrats, the largest opposition party, in their plan to initiate a no-confidence vote.