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Czech Prime Minister Resigns Following Corruption and Surveillance Scandal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 17 2013

Prime Minister Petr Necas (David Sedlecky/Wikipedia)

The prime minister of the Czech Republic resigned yesterday, irreparably damaged by a corruption scandal and the possibility of impropriety in his personal life. According to the Czech constitution, his entire government will also have to relinquish office.

Prime Minister Petr Necas resigned soon after his chief of staff, Jana Nagyova, was charged with bribing government officials and ordering surveillance of several people, including Necas's wife.

When Necas resigned he said he was unaware of the surveillance but “the twists and turns” of his personal life – such as the announcement of his divorce last week – were interfering with Czech politics. In a scandal reminiscent of Scandal, many believe Necas was having an affair with Nagyova.

Seven other politicians and civil servants were also arrested in the corruption crackdown, and the police confiscated millions of euros and a stash of gold, as well.

The country is now in a state of political uncertainty. Prime Minister Petr Necas has said that he wants to organize a coalition and elect a new prime minister with support from his party, the center-right Civic Democratic Party (ODS).

However the head of state, President Milos Zeman of the left-wing opposition party, has ultimate control over the interim government. President Zeman can veto the candidate selected by former Prime Minister Necas, choose a new leader from the existing coalition or his own party, or call for an early election. The Wall Street Journal reports Zeman is against calling for an early general election.

At the end of May, techPresident reported on a new anti-corruption initiative in the Czech Republic called Rekonstrukce Státu, or the Reconstruction of State. They have nine laws aimed at reducing corruption and encouraging transparency that they would like to pass in the current electoral period, which ends in May 2014.

While the recent crackdown on corruption in high places is a sign the country is moving in the right direction, the ensuing political turmoil might delay the lawmaking process and hinder the initiative. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how recent developments might change the course of the Reconstruction of State.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.