The Czech Republic has fielded a record number of candidates for the upcoming elections to the European Parliament. A total of 31 Czech parties and movements will compete in the June 11-12 elections — far more than any other EU member state apart from Spain, the daily Hospodarske noviny reports. Whereas Spain has a long tradition of fielding regional candidates, the Czech field is exceptionally wide due to the low cost of registering a political entity, which is 15,000 crowns (about 500 euros). In Slovakia, registration costs three times as much and only 17 parties will vie for seats in the European Parliament; in Austria, the deposit is equivalent to 119,000 crowns, and only six parties are running, the paper notes.
Separate reports published by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on Tuesday say that the Roma minority are still being discriminated against in the Czech Republic, Greece and Hungary. The report on the Czech Republic said "there have been few noticeable improvements in the situation of Roma" whose "marginalisation from mainstream society continues through their ghettoisation in substandard housing complexes on the outskirts of cities", said the ECRI, the Council of Europe's expert body on combating racism. It added that racially motivated violence and ill-treatment of Roma by the Czech police "continue to be problems of concern".
President Vaclav Klaus has nominated Ivana Janu to fill one of the empty seats on the Czech Constitutional Court, a spokesman for the president said on Monday. The Senate is expected to discuss her candidature in the near future. Ms Janu is a former member of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and is a widely respected expert on international public law.
A two-year-old girl is in a critical condition in hospital after she and her mother were knocked down by a head doctor in the grounds of Prague's Vinohrady Teaching Hospital on Monday. A spokesperson for the hospital said alcohol had been found in the doctor's blood, adding that he will be dismissed following consultations with the doctor's trade union.
A driver who killed three police officers in a collision last October has been sentenced to three years in prison by the district court in the eastern town of Karvina. The state attorney has appealed against the sentence handed down to businessman Zdenek Bulawa, who has also been banned from driving for ten years. The accident provoked wide debate about road safety in the Czech Republic.
Paul McCartney became the first member of the Beatles to appear in the Czech Republic when he played a concert in front of around 50,000 fans in Prague on Sunday night. Mr McCartney's two and a half hour set was almost completely made up of Beatles songs, with many fans singing along to classics such as Hey Jude and Yesterday.
If the Freedom Union does not do well in the upcoming European Parliament elections, that will not lead the party to quit the governing coalition, party head Petr Mares said on Monday. Opinion polls suggest the Freedom Union will fall some way short of the five-percent threshold in the elections, which take place on Friday and Saturday and are the first in the history of the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic has launched an international campaign to promote a planned issue of "eurobonds", by which it hopes to help fund reform of its public finances. A tour promoting the bonds in several European capitals got under way on Monday. The minister of finance, Bohuslav Sobotka, told the Czech BBC the bond issue could raise a billion crowns.
Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, who arrived in Prague on Saturday, will play Prague's T-Mobile Park on Sunday to tens of thousands of dedicated fans. Before he takes to the stage on Sunday evening, Mr McCartney is expected to meet briefly with the Czech Republic's former president, Vaclav Havel. Mr Havel is already known for camaraderie with the Rolling Stones. Among songs Mr McCartney is expected to perform in his three hour set will be such Beatles' classics as Yesterday, The Long and Winding Road, and Hey Jude.
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