2nd Oct 2023

Weakened Czech leader pledges EU treaty ratification

  • Mirek Topolanek says he should achieve Lisbon treaty ratification by the end of 2008 (Photo: European Commission)

Reeling from a huge political blow in last weekend's regional elections, Czech centre-right Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said that his country - set to chair the EU as of January - will push forward the ratification of the bloc's new Lisbon treaty.

"It would be very complicated to talk with the Irish about their ratification process and conditions of the process if we ourselves did not ratify the Lisbon treaty," Mr Topolanek said during a visit by German leader Angela Merkel to Prgaue on Monday (20 October), suggesting he would try his best to deal with the document at national level "by the end of this year," CTK agency reported.

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He referred to the EU's stalemate over the new reform treaty after Ireland's voters rejected it in a referendum in June, with all member states needed to ratify the document before it can take into effect.

So far, 22 EU countries have finalised the ratification - apart from Ireland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Poland and Germany - with Prague waiting for the verdict by the Czech constitutional court on whether the treaty is in line with the country's own constitution before it can proceed with ratification in the two parliamentary chambers.

According to Czech media, the judges could announce their opinion in late October or early November. But the decision would not in itself secure speedy ratification.

While the social democrats (CSSD) - the main opposition party - are in favour of ratification, Mr Topolanek is facing critics of the treaty in his own Civic Democratic party (ODS), as well as in the presidential palace of ODS founder and former leader Vaclav Klaus.

Aware of the potentially lengthy discussions in Prague, Mr Topolanek admitted it might be possible the Czech presidency could kick off without the country joining the list of the countries that have ratified the Lisbon text.

"It is evident that such a situation is possible and that we are capable of solving it, but it would be much better for us if we had this problem behind us," he said.

Regional blow

The main government ODS party suffered a strong defeat in regional elections held on Friday and Saturday (17 - 18 October). The centre-left CSSD party won in all 13 regions, ceasing the previous position of ODS as the strongest party in regional assemblies.

In the first round of senate poll held at the same time, one CSSD candidate was elected and other CSSD candidates advanced to the second round in 25 constituencies. ODS deputies advanced to the second round in 20 constituencies.

Analysts say that the ruling coalition - ODS and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) - will not lose their joint majority in the upper house. However, the poor performance by ODS in the regional elections has sparked debates about a possible fall of the government.

The parliament is due to hold a confidence vote on Mr Topolanek's cabinet on Wednesday (22 October).


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