On Tuesday, the lower house of parliament voted Civic Democrat Ivan Langer and Communist MP Vojtech Filip as lower house deputy chairmen. This brings the total number of elected deputy leaders to four, although the new lower house of parliament passed a proposal last Thursday allowing for six new parliament deputy chairpersons. In secret ballots, Mr Langer received 161 votes and Mr Filip 105. The two other candidates, the Freedom Union's Hana Marvanova and Civic Democrat Miroslava Nemcova, failed to get the mandatory 100 votes. The two MPs hope to receive the necessary number of votes in the next round of secret balloting.
Another opinion poll, this time conducted by the STEM agency on the education system, has revealed that half of the Czech public believes they do not enjoy equal opportunities when pursuing university degrees. According to the results released on Tuesday, eighty percent of those polled claim to be discouraged from pursuing a higher education because they lack enough money to do so. Another reason stated in the poll was corruption. Many believed that a place in a good university can only be gained by offering bribes.
A public opinion poll conducted by the TNS Factum agency says that the main reason for the low turnout during the parliamentary elections in June was public disgust with the general behaviour of Czech politicians. Sixty-three percent of those polled furthermore said they failed to vote as they did not feel it would make a difference. Over half of the questioned parties also added that they were not able to choose a suitable party.
The leadership of the opposition Civic Democratic Party met on Monday to discuss the causes of their election defeat in June. At the meeting, the Civic Democrats agreed to form a new shadow cabinet by the end of September. The previous shadow cabinet, much criticised by the party's chief Vaclav Klaus, was dissolved on Monday. The Civic Democrats' leadership also endorsed a study the party had commissioned analysing its poor election results. A new party convention where the leadership is expected to offer its resignation will take place in December this year. Only one high-ranking member of the Civic Democrats resigned in the wake of the party's poor showing in the elections.
President Vaclav Havel appointed a new centre left coalition government on Monday, one month to the day after the general elections. The new Cabinet, which is expected to lead the country into the European Union, is headed by Social Democrat Vladimir Spidla. The government is dominated by the Social Democratic Party which has 11 ministerial posts, the remaining 6 have been divided between the centrist Christian Democrats and the liberal Freedom Union. With an average age of 42, the cabinet is the youngest ever in the country's history. The new government commands a one-vote majority, with 101 votes of the 200 seats in the lower house.
The European Commission's deputy chairwoman Loyola de Palacio has said that the European Union has no reservations regarding the safety of the Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia. According to de Palacio Temelin meets all international nuclear safety requirements as well as a list of nuclear safety norms which the EC is preparing for EU states. The EC's deputy chairwoman on Sunday rejected another bid for EU intervention from Austria saying that the question of Temelin's future was strictly the Czech Republic's internal affair and the European Union would put no pressure on Prague in connection with plant.
The 37th International Karlovy Vary Film Festival proved to be a triumph for Czech film makers. The main prize the Crystal Globe Award -went to the Czech film Year of the Devil directed by Petr Zelenka - a black comedy about a group of Czech musicians confronting the horrors of alcoholism. The main prize in the category of documentary films likewise went to a Czech production called Town B directed by Filip Remunda. The jury, headed by the French actor and director Jean Marc Barr, awarded a special prize to the German movie Nowhere in Africa directed by Caroline Link. The Best Director award went to Asghar Massombagi for the Canadian movie Khaled. The Best Camera Award went to Ming Boung-hun for the Korean film No time for tears. The British actor Sean Connery was presented with a special award for his lifelong contribution to the world of cinematography. Over the past ten days the famous West Bohemian spa town hosted over 140 thousand film fans who saw close to 300 domestic and foreign movies. Visitors also got the chance to mingle with some of their film idols among them Sean Connery, Michael York, Stephen Fry, Ben Chaplin, Claire Duval, Keira Knightley and Orla Brayd.
British immigration officials have ended another round of immigration controls at Ruzyne airport. 82 people bound for Great Britain were turned away between now and June 23rd . The British immigration checks at Prague's main airport are the result of an agreement between the Czech and British governments. The Czech side agreed to the move in the wake of a mass exodus of Romanies to Great Britain. An alternative solution, which both countries want to avoid, is the re-introduction of a visa regime. The British authorities who want to protect their country from economic asylum seekers, say that the number of Czech nationals asking for asylum has dropped significantly in the wake of the immigration checks. However the procedure has come under fire from human rights activists who say that the questions Czechs travelling to Great Britain are asked are too personal. Romanies who have been turned back say that the check ups are racist.
The 37th International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary is due to end with a gala show and award ceremony on Saturday night. Over the past ten days the famous West Bohemian spa town hosted over 140 thousand film fans who saw close to 300 domestic and foreign movies. Visitors also got the chance to mingle with some of their film idols among them Sean Connery, Michael York, Stephen Fry, Ben Chaplin, Claire Duval, Keira Knightley and Orla Brayd . The Festival's main prize is the Crystal Globe award, a 20,000 dollar prize given to the festival's best premiere feature production.
Commenting on the election of a new chairman of the lower house on Thursday, Mr Havel said that if the vote was a test, the new government had passed it. Lubomir Zaoralek of the Social Democrats became chairman after a second vote, seeing off a challenge from current chair Civic Democrat Vaclav Klaus, who stood against Mr Zaoralek to test the cohesion of the new government, which has a majority of one.
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