March 23 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.