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Austerity package drama

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On Friday the lower chamber endorsed austerity package lowering the next year’s budget deficit from original CZK 230 billion to CZK 163 billion. The move was preceded by a variety of dramatic poses that included threat, sulking, disbelief, insults and many more.

First, Finance Minister Eduard Janota who put together the austerity package in order to prevent the country’s slide into debt and possibly bankruptcy announced on Wednesday he would not want to stay in his post if the package were not approved. Prime Minister of the caretaker government Jan Fischer repeatedly emphasised that approval or disapproval of the package equals confidence or no-confidence vote for the cabinet.

On Wednesday party leaders came out of seven-hour-long discussion victoriously with a single list of amendments. On Thursday ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek took back his word saying he assumed the list included cancellation of the planned decrease of unemployment benefit. On Friday Paroubek took back his word again and gave up on increasing the unemployment deficit. Finally, all the MPs of all the parties, with the exception of all the 26 communists, voted in support of the package.

ČSSD will nevertheless try to push through party’s amendments to the package through law amendments at future lower house sessions.

• Does this really mean MPs would support caretaker cabinet until elections?
• Will the drama resume with the budget discussion?
• What exactly is Jiří Paroubek’s problem?

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