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Czech Republic: Prime Minister Facing Confidence Vote Today

Prague, 11 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla will face a vote of confidence in his coalition government today. The coalition controls the government by the narrowest of margins: 101 of the 200 seats in parliament's lower chamber. Spidla has urged every coalition parliamentarian to back the government. If any deputies choose to defect, the government will collapse, and a new coalition will have to be formed.

The government crisis began 10 days ago, when several members of Spidla's Social Democratic Party, the coalition's senior party, snubbed party leaders by voting for the opposition candidate for president. As a result, President Vaclav Klaus of the Civic Democrats was elected to succeed former President Vaclav Havel.

Klaus's victory by just one vote prompted Spidla to request a vote of confidence.

The center-left coalition of the Social Democratic Party, Christian Democratic Union-People's Party, and the Freedom Union-Democratic Union has been in power since last summer.