Czech govt to face no-confidence vote Friday

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The Czech government will face a no-confidence vote Friday and if it fails, early elections will be held, the prime minister says.

The announcement Monday by Prime Minister Petr Necas came a day after the leaders of the three parties that form the rightist government agreed to end their coalition.

Necas had pressed to end the coalition after Vit Barta of the centrist Public Affairs party was convicted of paying bribes but refused to resign his parliamentary seat.

Necas said if the government loses the vote, his conservative Civic Democratic Party will seek an deal with other parties to dissolve Parliament by May 3 at the latest "so early elections could be held by the end of June."

Without Public Affairs, the government loses its majority in the 200-seat lower house of Parliament. However, a number of prominent Public Affairs lawmakers are forming a new group to support the government.

Necas' coalition came to power in July 2010 and it has faced a number crises since then due to tensions between the two conservative parties and Public Affairs.

It has also been under fire from the opposition and labor unions for austerity cuts it says are necessary to help bring the budget deficit back below 3 percent of GDP.

Almost 100,000 people rallied Saturday in Prague to protest the cuts in one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations here since the collapse of communism in 1989. Protesters urged the government to abandon the cuts and resign, demands the government has refused to meet.