The lower house of parliament has upheld the government's mandate for talks on the EU Constitution, which are due to take place in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. After a four-hour debate on Wednesday, the lower house of parliament did not approve a proposal by the opposition obliging the government to take the views of the opposition parties into consideration during the talks in Brussels. The defeated proposal also sought to prevent the "reduction" of the Czech Republic's independence in the EU. A week ago, the government supported the proposal that Czech negotiators should advocate equal position of small and big EU members. The cabinet is pushing for one EU commissioner for each EU member state and the establishment of a rotating 18-month EU presidency of three countries in the European Council.
The CTK news agency has reported that some senior Social Democrat party members have recommended to Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla that he step down at Saturday's party leadership meeting. An unnamed source from the party leadership is quoted as saying that the deputy Social Democrat chairman, Interior Minister Stanislav Gross, should take over as party head, while Mr Spidla could retain his position as Prime Minister. Mr Spidla is facing tough criticism from his party colleagues after the Social Democrats were routed in the European parliamentary elections. The party won only two of 24 Czech seats in the European Parliament in what analysts called a voter backlash against the party for abandoning its leftist roots two years after winning a general election. Prime Minister Spidla has called for a confidence vote from the Social Democrats on his party leadership on July 11, but has said defeat would not make him step down as prime minister.
The Health Minister, Jozef Kubinyi, has sacked the heads of the Thomayerova hospital in Prague, and the head of the Olomouc teaching hospital in north Moravia. According to the ministry's press department, the reason for the sackings was that both men failed to manage the deepening economic problems of both hospitals. The head of the General Teaching Hospital in Prague, Pavel Horak, will be charged with running the Thomayerova hospital until a selection process for a new head is decided upon. When he took office several months ago, Minister Kubinyi said he would sack hospital directors where audits showed serious economic problems and mismanagement. Mr Kubinyi has already sacked the head of the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague, even though the audit of the facility was only partially complete.
Earlier this week, the chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, sent letters to the Prague embassies of EU member states saying the coalition government's poor showing in the weekend's European parliamentary election meant it had lost its legitimacy to negotiate on issues such as the EU constitution on behalf of the Czechs. Mr Topolanek said it therefore made no sense for other EU member states to negotiate with the Social Democrat-led government. The ruling coalition sharply criticised the Civic Democrats' letter and diplomats said privately that it had been a faux pas.
President Vaclav Klaus has appointed Roman law expert Michaela Zidlicka as a new constitutional judge, raising the number of the members of the body to 12 and thus enabling the court to debate complex constitutional complaints in a plenum. In all, the Constitutional Court should have 15 members. Constitutional judges are proposed by the president, but their nomination must be approved by the Senate. President Klaus has put forward 15 candidates, one of them twice, since taking office last year. The Senate has rejected five candidates and accepted eight. Earlier this year, the Christian Democrat Senator Zdenek Barta said he would file a constitutional complaint of treason against President Klaus for his delays in naming judges. According to the complaint, Mr Klaus has crippled one branch of power by not naming judges. President Klaus has rejected the allegation.
President Vaclav Klaus has accepted the resignation of Justice Minister Karel Cermak from his post. Mr Cermak, nominated by the senior ruling Social Democrats, confirmed his resignation in protest of the government's recent decision to strip judges of additional 13th and 14th salaries. Mr Cermak has said he considered the move as an attack on the judiciary. Now Mr Cermak is expected to be replaced by another Social Democrat, Zdenek Koudelka.
The heavily favoured Czech national football side has won its opening
match at the Euro 2004 football tournament in Portugal. Despite
concentrated pressure by Czech players inlcuding Karel Poborsky, Milan
Baros, and Pavel Nedved in the first half, Latvia scored just before
half-time on a beautiful cross by Blagonadezdins to Verpakovskis. He
tapped the ball easily into the open net.
Latvia then led 1-0 well into the 2nd before Czech striker Milan Baros scored in the 73rd minute to put his side back in the game. Marek Heinz then added a 2nd in the 85th to put the Czechs ahead for good.
The public prosecutor's office has confirmed that a 29-year-old chauffeur to Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda will stand trial for negligence leading to bodily harm. This for a road accident in which the foreign minister suffered a serious neck injury in April. It has confirmed the driver was driving dangerously fast, leading to the accident. If found guilty he could face a fine or even up to five years in prison.
The Prague high court ruled has ruled that the name of popular Czech actress Jirina Bohdalova should be struck from the Interior Ministry's list compiling the names of agents who cooperated with communist-era secret police, the StB. The ruling applies, however, only to the internet version of the list, because, said the court, erasing Mrs Bohdalova's name from existing files was not technically possible.
The Chamber of Deputies has failed to discuss the possibility of an
eventual confidence vote reconfirming the mandate of the Czech Republic's
coalition government, which suffered a major defeat in last weekend's
European Parliament elections. The government saw just four elected to a
possible twenty-four MP posts. The Social-Democrat-led government is now
at a crossroads over how to react to its failure at the most recent polls,
with some calling for a cabinet shake up. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla
has himself confirmed he will call for his party's executive committee to
reconfirm his and his deputies' mandates on July 11th.
That is not to say the government might not face a vote of "no confidence" in the near future, called by the opposition Civic Democrats. However, at the moment the opposition in the lower house lacks enough votes to bring down the government. The coalition, led by the senior Social Democrats, enjoys a slim majority of 101 in the 200 member chamber.
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