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Czech Party May Quit Cabinet Over Communist Vetting Law

Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- The Czech Christian Democrats threatened to quit the ruling coalition if their partners back a proposal to abolish a law preventing Communist-era officials from taking public jobs.

Just a week after the cabinet was appointed, the Christian Democrats urged lawmakers to reject the bill designed to invalidate legislation requiring public servants to prove they weren’t party officials, secret-police members or collaborators with the Communist regime.

Almost 25 years ago after the Velvet Revolution, the Czech Republic is assessing mechanisms that were put in place at the time to ensure transition to democracy and market economy. The present-day Communist Party, which says the current legislation violates the European Union’s anti-discrimination rules, can only push it further into legislative process if it gets support from other lawmakers. The Christian Democrats seek to nip the plan already in a first parliamentary reading.

“We have clearly informed our coalition partners that if the Communists’ proposal is passed into the next reading, it would be a reason for us to end the coalition cooperation,” Pavel Belobradek, the Christian Democrats’ chairman, told a televised news conference in Prague today.

Lawmakers began debating the Communist Party’s bill on Feb. 5. The Christian Democrats demand that the proposal be rejected before the government faces a confidence vote in parliament on Feb. 18.

Deputies for the Social Democrats, the strongest member of the ruling coalition, won’t get a party directive on how to vote on the bill, CTK newswire reported today, citing party leader and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

Probably fewer than 10 Social Democrat lawmakers intend to back the Communists’ proposal and the motion will most likely be rejected, Roman Sklenak, the head of the party’s caucus, told public television today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Laca in Prague at placa@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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