PRAGUE (AP) — A new Czech government of technocrats was sworn in by the president Wednesday to replace the administration of former Prime Minister Petr Necas, who resigned over a spy and bribery scandal.
President Milos Zeman's move was unlikely to end a period of political instability triggered last month by the arrest of eight people, including Necas' closest aide, who was charged with bribery and ordering a military intelligence agency to spy on Necas' estranged wife.
The government, led by Zeman's economy adviser, Jiri Rusnok, is made up mostly of the president's allies. Zeman called it a government of "experts," and Rusnok said the priority was to prepare the 2014 state budget.
The outgoing coalition has condemned the new government. "I reject the government as a whole," said parliamentary speaker Miroslava Nemcova, who refused to drink a glass of Champagne with the new ministers after a ceremony at Prague Castle.
The three partners of the center-right coalition had approved Nemcova — a member of Necas' conservative Civic Democratic Party — as their candidate for premier. The coalition has a parliamentary majority and pledged to rule until elections due in May 2014.
The president is mostly a ceremonial leader, but has the power to pick the prime minister. It is unusual, however, for the president to ignore a parliamentary majority. Before the presidential vote earlier this year, Zeman, a leftist politician, pledged to work to oust the center-right government.
"The president carefully did exactly what no political party wanted to," outgoing Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said. "The people who are coming are not accountable to anyone." Rusnok's government has to face a parliamentary confidence vote within 30 days and has no chance to survive it if the coalition remains united. If it fails, Zeman has a right to name another prime minister.
Parliament will also hold a vote July 17 on whether to call early elections.