Final Word from Tuesday, February 10, 2004





Interior Minister Stanislav Gross' announcement that he's prepared to challenge Vladimír Špidla for the leadership of ČSSD next year comes as Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka's position within the cabinet is on the rise. Gross has now managed to shift attention away from Sobotka and onto himself. This is largely political but could also give Gross more say in the remaining privatization deals. As Martin Fendrych noted in Týden, Gross has been sticking his nose into Unipetrol, Severočeské doly and Telecom. Fendrych suggested that Gross might even want to bring down the Špidla government. ODS Chair Mirek Topolánek told the BBC last night that there's talk of a ČSSD-ODS grand coalition. A cabinet shakeup that sidelined Špidla and Sobotka would play into the hands of the politicians and businessmen whose main interest is personal privatization profit. privatizers

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