FACTBOX-Eastern European coalitions and political strains

March 23 Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:06pm GMT

March 23 (Reuters) - Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said on Monday he would seek support from independent deputies to avoid losing a no-confidence vote on Tuesday, and said an early election may be called if the government falls.

Hungary's ruling Socialists and opposition Free Democrats said the country's new prime minister should not be a party politician, they wanted to agree on the appointment by Thursday and they would ensure a parliamentary majority for the new prime minister, but would not form a coalition government.

Following are thumbnail sketches of Eastern Europe's coalition governments and recent flashpoints:

* BULGARIA -- The poorest EU nation has been hit by protests demanding the government shore up the economy although analysts say accelerating public discontent ahead of an expected summer election is unlikely to cause the government to fall.

-- Bulgaria's opposition right wing GERB party extended its lead in a January Gallup poll over the ruling Socialists and is expected to win the most votes in the election.

* CZECH REPUBLIC -- The Czech opposition Social Democrats launched a no-confidence vote to take place on Tuesday on the centre-right coalition of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.

-- Analysts have said it is the opposition's best chance yet to topple the ruling Civic Democrats, who are short of a majority and face hostile votes not only from rival parties but from independent deputies and rebels within their own ranks.

-- An ouster would threaten Czech ratification of the EU's Lisbon treaty and cast more doubt on an already sidelined plan to build a U.S. missile defence radar system in the country.

-- Czechs banks have been relatively unaffected by the global financial crisis, but growth has been hit badly by deepening recession in Western Europe, which has led to a sharp drop in output and job losses in the key manufacturing sector.

* HUNGARY -- The Socialists and Free Democrats said the country's new prime minister should not be a party politician and they wanted to agree on the appointment by Thursday, after Ferenc Gyurcsany said on Saturday he was ready to step aside for new government to lead Hungary out of the economic crisis.

-- The Socialists have ruled in a minority since last April, with the Conservative opposition retaining a large opinion poll lead. The next general election is not due until early 2010, and the Socialists' junior coalition partners are expected to help it see off an opposition motion to dissolve parliament and hold early elections in June.

-- Hungary sought a $25.1 billion IMF-led rescue package last year to stave off financial crisis, after falls in its forint currency had borrowers struggling to pay foreign currency loans and endangered banks. Hungary's economy contracted by 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

* LITHUANIA -- Police fired teargas in January to disperse demonstrators who pelted parliament with stones in protest at cuts in social spending to offset the slowdown.

-- The four-party centre-right coalition in office since October has raised taxes and cut spending to shore up the budget as revenues fell.

* POLAND -- The ruling centre-right Civic Platform led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk is ahead of its rivals with 44 percent of Poles saying they would vote for it if an election were held tomorrow. The next parliamentary election is not due until 2011 unless the government holds an earlier vote.

* ROMANIA -- Parliament approved the 2009 budget on Feb. 20 earmarking more than 10 billion euros ($12.85 billion) to lessen the pain of sharp economic slowdown with a consolidated deficit target of 2 percent of gross domestic, against the 5 percent shortfall recorded in 2008.

-- Romania has approached the European Union and the International Monetary Fund for support, the third member of the euro zone after Hungary and Latvia to seek outside help, and it is expected to borrow up to around 20 billion euros.

-- Elections in November brought in a coalition of former archrivals as the Social Democrat Party and Democrat-Liberal party came neck and neck in the polls.

-- The government is expected to be strained by presidential elections in November 2009 and suffered a blow in January when the interior minister resigned after a row with coalition partners over the appointment of an intelligence chief.

* SLOVAKIA -- Prime Minister Robert Fico won 2006 elections promising to spend more on the poor. The government approved a 332 million euro stimulus plan in January aimed at easing the impact of the economic slowdown.

-- Slovakia's unemployment rate rose to a 29-month high of 9.72 percent in February, as the euro zone's youngest member felt the hit of economic crisis in its main export markets.

* UKRAINE -- The pro-Western "orange revolution" coalition was reinstated last December with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko still in situ, effectively ruling out for now the prospects for a snap election.

-- Ukraine's political volatility predates the impact of the financial crisis, which has savaged the steel and banking sectors. Industrial output has shrunk by more than a third, the worst drop in over a decade.

-- Ukraine has clinched a $16.4 billion loan deal with the IMF to help offset the effects of the world financial crisis. But the Fund has suspended release of the loan's second tranche while discussions proceed on several issues, including the size of the budget deficit.

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