July 1, 2009 / 1:52 PM / 10 years ago

Czech president calls election for Oct 9-10

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech President Vaclav Klaus called on Wednesday a parliamentary election for October 9-10, in line with a political agreement to hold polls some nine months early.

Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus gestures as he speaks during an economic conference at a hotel in Warsaw in this June 5, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files

The Czech centre-right minority cabinet collapsed in a no-confidence vote in March, half-way through the country’s six-month EU presidency term.

A caretaker cabinet led by independent Jan Fischer was appointed to rule the central European country of 10.5 million until the early election.

The election date was agreed in a deal between the country’s two main political parties, the right-wing Civic Democrats and the leftist Social Democrats.

Opinion polls show a fine balance between the centre-right and left-wing forces, with the Civic Democrats (ODS) jumping ahead of the Social Democrats (CSSD) in a poll released last week.

No party is expected to win an outright majority and the next government will most likely be a coalition including some smaller parties, or a minority administration.

The Social Democrats want to hike taxes for the rich and for companies and raise pensions and welfare, and are tolerant to higher budget deficits even though a severe recession has hit the budget and deep cuts will be needed to avoid a jump in debt.

The budget gap — expected at 5.1 percent next year - will probably keep euro adoption off the agenda for several years, whoever wins.

The party also promotes warmer ties with Russia and opposes plans to build a U.S. missile defence base in the country.

The mildly eurosceptic Civic Democrats are strongly pro-American. They introduced a flat tax on personal income and started largely unpopular reforms of the pension and health systems before their cabinet collapsed.

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