The post-1989 Czechoslovak/Czech governmental system is a parliamentary one, with a (mostly) ceremonial president as head-of-state, and so there occurred yesterday in Prague that system’s occasional occupational hazard: the current government, headed by Premier Mirek Topolánek, was voted out in a vote of no-confidence. Topolánek’s coalition government had always existed with just a bare majority in the Czech chamber of deputies (lower house), made from three different parties, willing to support it, and this time it was apparently the defection of four such deputies from his own ODS party that sealed the government’s fate.
Of course, under ordinary circumstances few of us outside of the Czech Republic would care: the Czechs could just be left alone, as usual, to go forward under the terms of their constitution and find themselves a new government. And indeed, there was no mention of these events in Prague when I checked this morning (Central European Time) at the New York Times, the Times of London, or the Guardian, although the Washington Post did have a report. But these are not normal circumstances, among other reasons because the Czechs currently hold the presidency of the European Union. In fact this is a very bad time for such a thing to happen, for at least two reasons: (more…)