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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 August, 2004, 21:10 GMT 22:10 UK
New Czech PM wins confidence vote
By Rob Cameron
BBC correspondent in Prague

Czech leader Stanislav Gross and cabinet members
Mr Gross and his coalition narrowly survived the confidence vote
The new Czech government has passed its first major test - scraping though a vote of confidence in parliament.

The vote was overshadowed by allegations that the opposition tried to bribe a ruling deputy to vote against the government.

The vote was a formality required by the Czech constitution.

But Stanislav Gross - at 34, Europe's newest and youngest prime minister - leads a coalition with a wafer-thin majority of just one seat in the house.

He was forced to bring in two coalition deputies on long-term sick leave; one arrived in a wheelchair.

Litigation

Allegations of high-level corruption preceded the vote.

A governing deputy claims he was offered a bribe of Kc10m - just under $400,000 - by the opposition Civic Democrats if he voted against the government.

The Civic Democrats have categorically denied the claims and say they will sue the deputy for bringing the party into disrepute.

The matter is now in the hands of the police.

Election setback

President Vaclav Klaus, founder and former leader of the Civic Democrats, has intervened in the affair, describing the governing deputy as untrustworthy.

The deputy has called on his colleagues to speak up if they too have been offered bribes and not to leave him facing prosecution for libel on his own.

Former Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla stepped down last month, following the Social Democrats' heavy losses in the European elections.

The Czech Republic is due to hold general elections in 2006.




SEE ALSO:
Profile: Stanislav Gross
01 Jul 04  |  Europe
Czech PM survives vote
26 Sep 03  |  Europe
Country profile: Czech Republic
01 May 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Czech Republic
15 May 04  |  Country profiles


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