New Czech PM Appointed After Gross Quits

Jiri Paroubek (search) was appointed prime minister Monday to replace Stanislav Gross (search), who resigned after weeks of political crisis sparked by a scandal over the financing of his luxury apartment.

President Vaclav Klaus (search) announced Paroubek's appointment hours after Gross' resignation. Paroubek, 52, is vice chairman of the Social Democratic Party, and had served as housing minister in Gross' government.

Under the Constitution, the Cabinet is dissolved when the prime minister resigns. Klaus was expected to name a new Cabinet later Monday.

Speaking to reporters after appointing Paroubek in a ceremony at the Prague Castle (search), Klaus called the monthslong crisis "a time we certainly will not remember with pride and joy."

Earlier Monday, the Social Democrats and their coalition partners, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, signed a deal saying Paroubek's Cabinet would include four new names but that all key ministers will remain in their posts.

The new 18-member Cabinet would be "pro-EU," it said.

Paroubek must submit his proposed Cabinet to Klaus for approval. The new Cabinet then requires approval in the lower chamber of the Parliament within 30 days.

Like Gross' government, the new Cabinet can count on only a one-vote majority in the 200-seat lower chamber of parliament. At least two Social Democrats have already indicated they may have some reservations about the new government.

Paroubek said, however, he was "convinced the government will have the 101 mandates."

Gross had headed the government since last July. He succeeded Vladimir Spidla (search), who stepped down as prime minister and leader of the Social Democratic Party after its poor showing in June's European parliamentary elections.

The country's political crisis began earlier this year when Gross was unable to explain how he paid for his apartment.

He first said he financed it with the help of a mortgage, but later said he borrowed money from his uncle. Czech media later reported that his uncle had borrowed the money from a journalist he barely knew.