Final Word from Wednesday, February 4, 2004





With three sets of elections this year, the balance of power in Czech politics is shifting, and the man of the moment is Vlastimil Tlustý. Officially, he's just ODS's caucus leader in Parliament. Unofficially, though, he's the one who gets things done. The fate of the coalition's latest tax proposal rests largely in his hands. Not only can he corral the ODS and Communist votes, but he can also apparently decide when MPs from the doomed US-DEU cross over and pledge their allegiance to ODS. If necessary, he can even call on Václav Klaus for a veto. But Tlustý might decide to let the tax hikes pass, because they'll hurt the coalition in the elections. Although he's made a fool of himself at times in the past (his silly lawsuit against Eurotel, his plan for a Kč 4,000 monthly welfare payment to every adult), Tlustý VAT reform

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