The ruling Civic Democrats have begun a three-day conference to decide on the next party leader and set the party’s course for the coming months. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, chairman of the Civic Democrats since 2002, is being challenged by Prague Mayor Pavel Bém, highly critical of the Civic Democrats’ current direction. After receiving far higher regional backing, Mirek Topolánek is currently expected to retain the post. Unlike Mr Topolánek, who is for the continuation of the current coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Greens, Mr Bém said he would prefer a minority Civic Democrat government. Around 500 delegates will vote on Sunday to decide on the party’s next leader.