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Czech minority government resigns

The prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, presented his cabinet's resignation to President Vaclav Klaus in a ceremony at Prague Castle. Topolanek and his ministers will continue the day-to-day running of the country until a new cabinet is formed. His centre-right minority government lost the vote of confidence only 30 days after being sworn into office. The Czech Republic has been in a political stalemate since elections in June left parliament split down the middle between left and right.

Now President Vaclav Klaus will hold talks with all the parties in parliament but is not expected to nominate a new prime minister before the Senate and local elections at the end of October. Klaus pointed out that it was the fourth Czech government to resign in three-and-a-half years. Topolanek said that in the current balance of power it was not possible to form a functioning government. "Early elections are the quickest way to such a government," he said. The Czech constitution requires three attempts at forming a government before calling early elections. The first two are initiated by the president and if they fail, then the speaker of the lower house, who is from the opposition Social Democrats, will propose a prime minister. Some Czech officials have mooted the idea of a government of experts to lead the country into early elections. The current political stalemate risks delaying an agreement on the budget for 2007 and the adoption of the euro, originally scheduled for 2010. (BBC News)