PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech lower house of parliament rejected a motion on Wednesday to dissolve itself and force an early election in September, setting up more months of political uncertainty.
The motion was proposed by the centre-left Social Democrats after leftist President Milos Zeman picked his long-time ally, Jiri Rusnok, last month to lead a new government against the will of the main political parties.
But the plan won only 96 votes, short of the 120 needed to dissolve the 200-seat lower house, as centre-right parties rejected the idea of dissolving the lower house, in the hope that they might yet be able to form a new government themselves, with the current balance of power in the assembly.
The clash between parties and the president is threatening to cause gridlock in policymaking which could hold up a 2014 budget plan and rattle international investors, who have long viewed the EU country of 10.5 million as a safe haven.
Parties on both sides of the aisle say Zeman is defying constitutional conventions, but they have differing views on how to fight back.
The former ruling centre-right parties, which say they control 101 votes in the 200-seat house, refused to back the motion, and keep demanding from the president they get another shot at forming a government.
Rusnok must ask parliament for a vote of confidence, expected around August 8, and it is likely he will lose. That would lead to more attempts to form a government or parliament may hold further votes to force an election ahead of regular polls due in May next year.
Reporting by Robert Muller and Jason Hovet; Writing by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Robin Pomeroy