Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Czech Nominee Is Seen as Salve for Recent Scandal

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Czech Nominee Is Seen as Salve for Recent Scandal

Article excerpt

The governing party's candidate to become the next prime minister of the Czech Republic has a reputation for moral rectitude and can restore confidence in the scandal-hit nation, analysts said Thursday.

The governing party's candidate to become the next prime minister of the Czech Republic is a former bookshop owner who has never held a ministerial position, but she has a reputation for moral rectitude and can restore confidence in the scandal-hit nation, analysts said Thursday.

Miroslava Nemcova, 60, currently the speaker in the country's lower house of Parliament, was nominated Wednesday by the ruling center-right Civic Democrats to replace Petr Necas, who resigned on Monday following a corruption scandal.

Ms. Nemcova, a popular and modest figure who is known for a free market economic outlook, would be the country's first female prime minister. The Czech media Thursday was already dubbing her the "Iron Lady," the nickname of the late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. But analysts said Mr. Nemcova was a far more conciliatory figure, and one who had seldom sought out power or influence.

Jindrich Sidlo, a commentator at Hospodarske noviny, a leading economic newspaper, said Ms. Nemcova had limited experience in foreign policy and daily policymaking and was chosen primarily because she had never been tainted by scandal.

"She is the best choice because she is not connected with any scandal during her entire political career," Mr. Sidlo said. "The only scandal attributed to her is that she once lent her son an office car, and that is hardly a big deal."

Last week, after a series of nationwide raids, prosecutors charged seven people -- including the prime minister's chief of staff and the current and former heads of military intelligence -- in the most extensive crackdown on corruption since the Communist government was overthrown in 1989.

The prime minister's chief of staff Jana Nagyova, a close confidante, was charged with abuse of power and bribery after prosecutors said she ordered a military intelligence agency to spy on three people, including Mr. Necas's wife. Prosecutors said she had also offered posts in state-owned companies to three rebellious members of Parliament in return for them agreeing to leave their parliamentary seats. …

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