Final Word from Thursday, August 12, 2004

It's a familiar scene: ČSSD is looking ahead to regional elections this fall and wants to throw money left and right to win the votes. But this time it's slightly different. In stepped Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka yesterday. He's in charge of the state coffers and didn't agree with some elements of the spending spree. Perhaps partly out of wounded pride (he was demoted from deputy premier) and partly out of fiscal prudence, Sobotka dealt the first serious blow to ČSSD's strategy. Before the cabinet had officially even been confirmed, it had to backtrack on some of its promises. Sobotka has been put in a no-win situation. Public finances are a mess, and he's in charge of fixing them. If he fails because of all the pork-barrel projects, he'll get the blame. If he succeeds but ČSSD loses voter support because of his budget cuts, he'll again get the blame. waste


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