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Czech Cabinet Risks Collapse After Pary Pulls Out

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas’s junior partner said it will quit the coalition by Jan. 10 after its leader was dismissed as defense minister, threatening to topple his government.

“This is the factual end of the government,” Deputy Premier Karolina Peake, head of the LIDEM party, said on Czech Television yesterday after Necas ordered her removal just eight days into the job. Peake made “unreasonable” personnel changes at the ministry, Necas told reporters in Prague.

Peake’s tiny LIDEM party had provided vital support to the Cabinet in the 200-seat parliament, where Necas is struggling to muster a ruling majority. The premier, who’s raised taxes and cut investment to meet European Union deficit goals, is trying to avoid the fate of leaders from Spain to Romania who were ousted from power after imposing austerity measures.

Peake, 37, removed a group of top officials from the Defense Ministry after she had publicly pledged not to make any major personnel changes. The move was criticized by Necas and President Vaclav Klaus, who removed her from the post yesterday after being asked to do so by the prime minister.

Men’s Game

“If some men thought that some other men will oversee the new girl at the ministry, and I didn’t act according to their plans, then they should have told me about that beforehand,” Peake, who had headed the government’s anti-corruption drive before becoming defense minister, said on Czech Television.

Necas said he lost trust in Peake at the top defense job after her personnel moves, even as he offered to keep her on as deputy premier. In a news conference preceding Peake’s briefing with reporters, Necas called on LIDEM to act in a “politically responsible way.” His term ends in 2014.

Necas, speaking to reporters in Prague today, said he’s ready for talks with LIDEM on the future of the coalition and he’d like to see the formation continue to exist. Klaus asked the premier to temporarily take over the Defense Ministry before a replacement is found.

Peake declined to say whether LIDEM will oppose the government in the event of a confidence vote. She said LIDEM expects to join the opposition.

Lubomir Zaoralek, deputy head of the opposition Social Democrats, called on Necas to step down. The premier “failed” by appointing Peake who was “unprepared” for the defense job, Zaoralek told reporters in Prague.

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