The old cliche goes that you know you’re getting old when you’re older than this month’s Playboy centerfold.

But here in Kafkaville, a surer sign of your encroaching get the hell off my tram seat you whippersnapper! status is when the goddammit Prime Minister-designate is younger than you. How old is Gross, anyway, 15? Sheesh. I don’t know if I’d trust him with my car keys, let alone to form a government. The State of the Union address is a hell of a time to have your voice break.

Seeing as it looks like ČTK’s English desk headed out early to their cottages for the four-day weekend, here’s my translation:

Klaus entrusts Acting Social Democrats leader Gross to form new government

PRAGUE – Czech president Václav Klaus today entrusted acting Social Democrats leader Stanislav Gross to form a government. Klaus, after his morning meeting with parliamentary leaders, called for the new government to present a change. It should not merely present changed names in a coalition cabinet made up of the Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union. Klaus announced his decision at a press conference after today’s meeting with Gross.

“I will try to complete this task. If I am successful, I will of course try to make the named government deserve the trust of the Czech people and of course the foreign public,” Gross said at a press conference.

President Klaus at the short press conference said that he handed Gross a letter in which he officially requested that Gross form a government. Klaus quoted from the letter: “Before I invoke my constitutional authority to name a Prime Minister, I have decided to request that the political scene, on the basis of my call, begin official talks on the creation of a future government,” Klaus said.

The president believes that ČSSD leaders will manage to find a solution which will allow the government to secure majority support in the Chamber of Deputies, as well as being trustworthy for the president and positively received by the Czech and international public. “In such an instance I would go forward with naming a Prime Minister,” Klaus said.

The press conference with Klaus and Gross took only a few minutes. Questions were not taken, and the meeting between the two politicians took roughly 15 minutes.

The president is not required by the constitution to say who he will entrust with forming a government. The new government has, after the president names the entrusted politician, 30 days to come before the Parliament with a request for a vote of confidence. If it does not win the confidence vote, the president would appoint a new prime minister and that government would again have 30 days to win a confidence vote. If the second cabinet is not successful, the presdient must name the prime minister on the basis of a recommendation from the leader of the Chamber of Deputies. In the event that not even this government can gain the support of the lower house of parliament, the president can dissolve parliament and call early elections.

A constitutional law on the shortening of the election period could also bring about early elections, which must be approved by both houses of parliament. In order for elections to be approved, 120 of the 200-member Chamber of Deputies and a 3/5 majority of present Senators must vote for them. This path to early elections assumes wide politicall agreement, and that, according to statements by politicans so far, does not exist on the Czech political scene.

UPDATE 18:44 020704: ČTK has posted an English version of the story, and you can compare my translation to theirs by clicking here.

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