The Czech prime minister announced his resignation last night after his government lost a confidence vote in parliament, reports the New York Times. The ouster of Mirek Topolanek comes at an awkward moment: Not only do the Czechs hold the rotating EU presidency, but Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Prague in less than 2 weeks. The government's collapse may undermine efforts to install a US missile defense system in the Czech Republic.
Although the government may stay on in a transitional capacity, it would lack the political capital to go ahead with the missile defense negotiations, which opposition politicians had already threatened to vote down. The Czech government is the third in Eastern Europe to fall recently, after Latvia and Hungary, though its collapse was triggered by political wrangling rather than the economic downturn.