The lower chamber of the Czech Parliament voted today on the extension of the mandate for foreign troop deployments in Afghanistan and Kosovo, and with 101 votes needed in the 200 seat house, the government netted only 99 yes votes, defeating the measure.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek condemned the vote, declaring he “was ashamed for being Czech.” Only about 400 Czech soldiers serve in Afghanistan, and another 400 serve in Kosovo. With the mandate ended, the Czech government will have 60 days to bring its troops home, starting on January 1. Military Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Vlastimil Picek said the vote sends a “very bad signal for our partners.”
The Czech government’s ability to push through its agenda was seriously compromised by a major defeat in October elections, led primarily by popular opposition to the proposed US radar base in the nation. Topolanek’s ruling coalition has only 96 seats, while its primary opposition party has 97. The government was counting on the seven independent MPs to sway the vote in their favor.