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Czech Party Leaders Agree To Early Polls In October

Outgoing Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek
PRAGUE (Reuters) -- Leaders of the two biggest Czech political parties have agreed that the country should hold an early election in October after last week's no-confidence vote in the center-right cabinet, the Czech news agency CTK has said.

It quoted leftist opposition Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek as saying he had agreed with outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek on the date and on forming working groups to prepare measures to fight an economic downturn.

All the main political parties have spoken in favor of holding an election before the scheduled mid-2010 date as neither the government nor the opposition have a majority in the lower house. Topolanek's right-wing Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats could agree by law to set an earlier date.

Topolanek's team will stay in power until a new cabinet is appointed, or until the polls, but it remained unclear who would form a new cabinet to lead the central European country, which holds the rotating EU presidency, into the election.

Topolanek has said he should lead the next cabinet.

The Social Democrats have called for the outgoing cabinet to remain in office until the handover of the EU Presidency to Sweden in July, and then for a government of nonparty experts to be formed.

But euroskeptic President Vaclav Klaus, a political foe of both Topolanek and Paroubek, has said a new cabinet must be appointed quickly.

Klaus has the sole right to choose the prime minister, and analysts said he may pick a euroskeptic outsider if parties do not come to an agreement quickly.