Prague - Petr Bendl, deputy chairman of the Civic Democrats (ODS) and outgoing regional governor of Central Bohemia, said yesterday that PM Mirek Topolánek should dismiss Health Minister Tomáš Julínek (ODS).
Bendl believes that healthcare reforms pushed by Julínek contributed to the party's debacle in last week's regional elections.
"I am convinced that the [general] elections in 2010 will be about healthcare," said another top ODS representative who had asked to remain anonymous. "I think it's evident that Tomáš Julínek has mismanaged a number of steps," said the official, adding that Julínek should not have started his healthcare reform by introducing unpopular medical fees.
When asked by ČTK whether Julínek should be replaced as health minister, Bendl replied, "At least." He refused to specify how fast this should happen. "I am not the one who can make changes in the cabinet. This is for Mirek Topolánek to do."
"I strongly believe that Mirek Topolánek will realise that a significant change must be made," Bendl continued. "This is the largest election debacle in the ODS's history. Whether Mirek Topolánek is willing to admit it or not, voters on Saturday gave poor marks to the government, not to the regional governors."
Bendl added he might run for party chairman against PM Mirek Topolánek at the ODS congress in December. "I believe that there should be more candidates for chairmanship so that party members have more choice. I cannot rule out that I will run," he said.
Topolánek is determined to defend his chairmanship despite the party's defeat in the regional elections.
The media previously speculated about Pavel Bém, another ODS deputy chairman and Prague mayor, as Topolánek's potential successor as ODS leader. Bendl says he supports Bém's nomination, adding that if Bém after all decides not to face Topolánek in December, this will give Bendl another reason to run.