Czech lawmakers take initial step toward early poll

Czech Republic’s lawmakers Tuesday began considerations that could lead to an early general election, perhaps as soon as November. The move is a backstop in case a snap poll set for early October is thrown out by the nation’s top court.

After former premier Mirek Topolanek’s centre-right government collapsed in March, halfway through the country’s presidency of the European Union, political leaders agreed to hold a snap election on October 9-10.

But the Constitutional Court put the vote on hold on September 1 in order to hear a challenge against the one-off law allowing the elections. The 15-member court is set to hear the case on Thursday.

Lawmakers Tuesday debated bills that would introduce a fast track to early polls. They plan to use the new path if the court blocks the October 9-10 election on Thursday or takes too long to rule on its fate.

Political parties agreed that, under the constitutional amendment being considered, the president would have to dissolve the parliament’s lower house if 120 of its 200 lawmakers vote for it. Under their deal, another amendment – of the election law – would then allow the president to call for a snap poll 50 days after dissolving the chamber.

The legislation, which would allow the election in early November at the earliest, requires approval by both parliamentary houses and the president. The final parliamentary votes are to take place after the court’s Thursday session.

If all goes as planned, the lower house could be dissolved as soon as next week.

If the election takes place in November, the country is expected to start 2010 with an emergency budget, based on the expenditures approved for this year, at a time when public finances require fiscal austerity.

Political parties and their lawmakers are unwilling to pass the budget – and measures that would rein in a deficit soaring amid the economic crisis – before voters take to the polls.


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