Final Word from Friday, March 14, 2003

Perhaps Vladimír Špidla is a brilliant strategist who has a grand plan that he's methodically carrying out. If so, it's not very apparent. Instead, it seems Špidla is going from one bad decision to another. Sacking Industry Minister Jiří Rusnok yesterday might temporarily consolidate his position, but Alexandr Mitrofanov of Právo said on Czech Radio that it could also make Špidla's life more difficult at the ČSSD party congress in two weeks. He'll have to explain not only his past missteps, Mitrofanov said, but also why he removed the only economist in his cabinet. Rusnok favors a coalition with ODS, and analyst Martin Švehla said the battle within ČSSD over whether to work with ODS or US-DEU will continue. ODS, which criticized Rusnok's removal, will gradually take steps toward early elections, Švehla predicted. They can be expected sometime this fall, he said.


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