PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech lower house of Parliament on Wednesday rejected a motion by the opposition to dissolve itself and hold an early election, a move that gives the unpopular ruling coalition more time to turn around its slumping poll ratings before a planned vote next year.
The country has been swept up in political uncertainty since the center-right coalition government of Prime Minister Petr Necas collapsed last month in a whirlwind of corruption allegations and marital infidelity worthy of a soap opera.
Polls show disgusted voters turning their backs on Necas' conservative Civic Democratic Party, which would likely lose badly if the vote were held now. Eight people were arrested last month, including Necas' closest aide and the head of his office, with whom he was having an affair. She is suspected of bribery and ordering a military intelligence agency to spy on Necas' estranged wife.
Wednesday's vote fell as expected along party lines, 24 short of what would have been needed to call an election before the one scheduled in May 2014. Adding to the Czech Republic's confusion, left-leaning President Milos Zeman appointed an interim government of technocrats last week led by his economy adviser Jiri Rusnok, but it might not pass the August confidence vote it needs to rule. Necas' outgoing majority coalition is angry Zeman did not choose its preferred candidate.
Under the Constitution, 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.