Two of the three parties which are to form the new Czech government have asked for safeguards against future cooperation with the communists. The Christian Democratic Party and the right-wing Freedom Union have said they will do everything in their power to curb the influence of the Communist party on the Czech political scene. Their concern stems from the fact that some members of the strongest coalition party - the Social Democrats - have spoken in favour of a more leftist policy programme and closer cooperation with the communists. The party's acting chairman Stanislav Gross met with Communist Party representatives last Thursday to negotiate support for the new government, but no agreement was reached.
Czech politicians joined world leaders in paying their last respects to the late Austrian President Tomads Klestil. Among the two dozen heads of state and royals who attended President Klestil's funeral in Vienna on Saturday were Czech President Vaclav Klaus, Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and the former Czech president Vaclav Havel, who was a personal friend of Mr. Klestil's. Here in the Czech Republic, the media have run special coverage and profiles documenting the late president's life and work. He is remembered as a great statesman and a skilled diplomat who did much to advance Czech-Austrian relations.
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is nearing its end. The awards ceremony will be held at a gala evening on Saturday night. The week long festival, which attracted over 100.000 people, showed several hundred films and documentaries from around the world, many of them premieres. Among the stars who made an appearance at the festival were Harvey Keitel, Elijah Wood, John Cleese and Jacqueline Bisset.
Although Mr. Gross claims that his new Cabinet will have enough support to survive the remaining two years in office, the razor thin one vote majority has evoked concern even among members of the three party coalition. The Christian Democrats seem particularly concerned about the stability of the Freedom Union and the readiness of all Social Democratic party MPs to back the emerging government. Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek has urged the designated Prime Minster to get a commitment in writing from all coalition deputies, stating support for the future government. Mr. Gross said he was confident that his party's deputies would all back the government.
President Vaclav Klaus has said he is ready to accept an old-new coalition government based on a 101 vote majority in Parliament. The possibility of setting up a three party coalition government of Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union turned into a reality on Thursday when the designated Prime Minister Stanislav Gross managed to secure a slim 101 vote majority in the Lower House. It is a slim majority, but it is something I feel I should accept, President Klaus said.
The first transfer of a member of the Czech football squad since the European Championships has been agreed, with 22-year-old defender Tomas Hubschman leaving Sparta Prague for Shakhtar Donetsk. The wealthy Ukrainian club recently bought the talented young goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka from Banik Ostrava. Clubs around Europe have expressed interest in Czech players after the country's impressive run at Euro 2004.
After a meeting with Mr Gross, the leader of the Communists, Miroslav Grebenicek, said his party would not be prepared to support the three-party coalition the acting chairman of the Social Democrats is hoping to put together. Mr Grebenicek said the only thing he had been offered during Thursday's meeting was mineral water.
The Prague metro system was briefly brought to a halt on Thursday morning, when a young woman who was attempting to escape from a ticket inspector jumped off the platform and ran into a tunnel at Zelivskeho station. She was caught between there and Flora station within minutes. The C line was brought to a stop again a short time later, when a man threw himself under a train at Malostranska station.
The way could be open to the formation of a new three-party coalition
government, after a deputy from the Freedom Union opposed to such a
coalition, Marian Bielesz, resigned from his seat in the Chamber of
Deputies on Thursday; the man expected to replace him, Zdenek Koristka,
has said he would support a coalition of the Freedom Union, the Social
Democrats and the Christian Democrats.
The same three parties made up the previous government, which collapsed at the end of June following the resignation of Vladimir Spidla as prime minister.
If Mr Koristka throws his weight behind this formation, it will allow the acting leader of the Social Democrats, Stanislav Gross, to form a government and become prime minister. However, like the last government, it would have a majority of just one in the 200-seat lower house.
Mr Bielesz on Thursday denied suggestions that he had resigned in return for either money or the promise of an important post. He said he had quit parliament in order to reduce the possible influence of the Communist Party on the formation of a new government.
Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda is to visit Washington next week to hold talks with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, it was announced on Thursday. Issues raised at recent summits of NATO and the G8 countries will be on the agenda during Mr Svoboda's visit to the US.
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