Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Tuesday appointed the country’s new centre—right three—party coalition government, led by Prime Minister Petr Necas.
The appointment ends more than a year of political limbo and set the Czech Republic on an austerity—driven, reformist course.
“I want to reassure you and the public that this government will work hard,” Mr. Necas said after Mr. Klaus swore in the cabinet at Prague Castle, the presidential seat.
The Necas—led government, which met for the first time shortly after the ceremony, replaced a popular yet weak caretaker cabinet led by outgoing premier Jan Fischer.
The appointment comes nearly 16 months after ex—premier Mirek Topolanek’s government collapsed halfway through the Czech presidency of the European Union and 14 months after its Fischer—led caretaker successor took over.
The new government, which results from the May 28—29 election, comprises the Necas—led centre—right Civic Democrats and two upstart parties — the conservative TOP 09 and the populist Public Affairs. It has 30 days to pass a confidence vote in Parliament.
The ruling coalition controls a comfortable majority of 118 seats in the 200—strong lower house — unlike most cabinets of recent years, which had tight majorities.
Mr. Klaus urged the government to use its majority to introduce “fundamental and essential” reforms, but he also warned against overdoing the reformist and austerity drive. “Our country needs reforms, not a revolution,” he said.
In its coalition deal signed on Monday, the ruling parties promised to cut the budget gap to the EU—required three per cent of gross domestic product by 2013 through spending cuts and public finance reforms.
The cabinet plans to overhaul pensions and health care and cut money for public sector salaries by one—tenth.
Only severely underpaid teachers can expect a rise financed by 2.1 billion koruny (104.3 million dollars) transferred from the Defence Ministry’s 2011 budget.
The coalition also vowed to introduce tuition at state universities and reduce some welfare benefits. The ruling parties aim for a balanced budget in 2016.
Mr. Necas’ 15—member team includes no women, a rarity in Europe.
Top—ranking politicians from the Topolanek’s 2007—2009 cabinet assumed key posts.
Karel Schwarzenberg, 72, the popular pipe—puffing bow—tied patrician leader of TOP 09, returns as the top diplomat. His party’s deputy, Miroslav Kalousek, 49, regains control over the country’s finances.
Mr. Topolanek’s European affairs minister and top—ranking Civic Democrat, Alexandr Vondra, 48, takes charge of the Defence Ministry.
Aside from belt—tightening measures, the new Czech rulers pledged to combat corruption. Few changes are expected in foreign policy, which favours EU expansion to the western Balkans and diversification of energy sources away from dependence on Russia.
The coalition agreed not to set a date for adopting the euro.