Jiri Rusnok, new Czech PM, faces instant opposition

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Image caption Jiri Rusnok (left) is a long-time ally of Milos Zeman (right)

Czech President Milos Zeman has sworn in a new cabinet despite the opposition of the main parties in parliament.

New Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok replaces Petr Necas, who resigned last month amid a corruption and spying scandal.

But there is significant doubt about whether his new "government of experts" will win a confidence vote due within 30 days.

Critics accuse President Zeman of trying to grab powers from parliament for the presidency.

The new cabinet comprises 14 men and one woman.

Mr Zeman invited them to Prague Castle on a sweltering summer morning for their formal appointment as ministers.

He thanked them for taking on the task, and advised them to ignore the criticism of what he called "invidious fools".

After clinking glasses of champagne, they boarded a bus to lay flowers at the grave of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the spiritual father of Czechoslovak democracy.


However, critics fear that democracy could be undermined by the appointment of Mr Rusnok, a long-time leftist ally of the president.

"I reject the government as a whole because it bypassed the parliament and has been standing in opposition to it," parliament speaker Miroslava Nemcova said on Wednesday.

Without the support of either the three parties of the outgoing centre-right coalition or of the leftist opposition, the government looks unlikely to win a confidence vote.

MPs have expressed fears that, although Mr Zeman is supposed then to appoint another new prime minister, he might drag out the process, leaving Mr Rusnok's team in place for many months to carry out the president's wishes.

They have accused Mr Zeman of trying to introduce a semi-presidential system, which the outgoing finance minister has called "Putinesque".

It comes as the Czech Republic is trying to recover from an 18-month recession.

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