Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead

June 17, 2013

In Blog

Jewish 100: Petr Nečas – Government

Petr Nečas

Petr Nečas. Photo: CTK.

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic was the only European country to vote against the Palestinian Authority’s UN  upgrade bid in November 2012. The gesture resulted in a trip a week later to the country by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, where he met with Nečas to deliver this message: “Thank you for your friendship; thank you for your courage.” Nečas is the most recent in a long line of Czech leaders committed to the Jewish state. The former Czechoslovakia was the fourth country to recognize Israel’s independence five days after it was created in 1948.


Czech PM Petr Necas to resign over aide scandal


Petr Necas told a televised briefing that he was aware of his “political responsibility”

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas is due to resign in the coming hours, in an effort to end political turmoil over a corruption inquiry.

His ruling coalition will try to form a new government led by someone nominated by his Civic Democratic Party (ODS).

Mr Necas announced he would quit after prosecutors charged his chief of staff with corruption and abuse of power.

Two former MPs, an ex-minister and the current and former heads of military intelligence were also detained.

All except one have been remanded in custody.

President Milos Zeman has said the charges, brought after armed police raids on government and private offices on Wednesday, were “serious”.

Up to 150m koruna (£5m; $8m) in cash, tens of kilograms of gold and large quantities of documents were seized during the raids.

Czech media review

Mlada fronta Dnes: “A political scandal of the highest grade… The premier has resigned. This is a logical conclusion to a rather bizarre drama. He started as the most promising premier after many years, described at the time as Mr Clean. Mr Clean… is now leaving, with a lot of dirt being dished on him, but it has all been done in a rather odd and embarrassing way.”

Lidove Noviny: “The first government which has made it possible for the police to investigate thoroughly cases involving senior political figures has become the victim of its own initiative.

Weekly Respect: “President Milos Zeman’s position will now continue to strengthen. Following Necas’s resignation, it is now up to him to decide who should be tasked with forming the country’s new government… The government does not have a lot to offer, and confidence in the current political representation has been shaken so badly, that early elections should be called.”

‘Nothing dishonest’

Detectives say that the prime minister’s chief of staff, Jana Nagyova, is suspected of bribing the former MPs with offers of posts in state-owned firms. It is alleged this was in exchange for them giving up their parliamentary seats.

Ms Nagyova – a close colleague of Mr Necas for nearly a decade – is also suspected of illegally ordering military intelligence to spy on three people.

Czech media reported that the targets included Mr Necas’s wife, Radka Necasova. Mr Necas announced this week that they were divorcing.

Mr Necas has rejected all the accusations against Ms Nagyova and the other five accused, saying: “I am personally convinced that I did not do anything dishonest and that my colleagues have not done anything dishonest either.”

However, he told a televised briefing in Prague when announcing his resignation on Sunday evening: “I am aware of my political responsibility.”

“I will tender my resignation as prime minister tomorrow.” he said. “The entire government will therefore resign with me.”

The opposition Social Democrats had warned they would press for a no-confidence motion in parliament unless Mr Necas stepped down, and the two other parties in his centre-right coalition had signalled that they could no longer support him.

Masked Czech police officers escort the prime minister's chief of staff, Jana Nagyova, to a police station in Ostrava, 14 June
Ms Nagyova is seen here being escorted by masked police on Friday

The prime minister said the coalition would try to form a new government, led by a different person, to rule until elections scheduled for June 2014. He is expected to stay on as caretaker until it is installed.

Under the Czech constitution, President Zeman – a political rival – is under no obligation to respect the coalition’s wishes, and could name his own candidate to head an interim government until early elections are held,

Mr Necas also said on Sunday he would resign as his party’s chairman.

“I am fully aware how the twists and turns of my personal life are burdening the Czech political scene and the Civic Democratic Party,” he told the briefing.

BBC Prague correspondent Rob Cameron says the admission is the closest the prime minister has come to confirming that the woman at the heart of this scandal – Ms Nagyova – is more than just a colleague.

After four days of stress and exhaustion, for the first time Mr Necas looked relaxed, almost relieved, on Sunday, our correspondent notes.

His party colleagues standing alongside him did not. One of them will now step forward to replace him – to lead a beleaguered party, a fractious coalition, and an unpopular government. Petr Necas, meanwhile, can begin sorting out his life.