Meanwhile, the leader of the governing Social Democrats, Stanislav
Gross, has said he is not considering stepping down, after his party
received just 14 percent of the vote in the regional polls.
Despite that poor showing, an opinion poll conducted by the CVVM agency in October suggests that 40 percent of Czechs "trust" the coalition government led by Mr Gross. In June, when a coalition of the same three parties was led by Vladimir Spidla, just over a quarter of Czechs said they trusted the government.
The opposition Civic Democrat Party has called on voters to go to the
polls in next weekend's second round of elections to the Senate,
especially in constituencies in which its candidate is facing a Communist
Party opponent. The Civic Democrats have candidates in the run-offs in 25
of 27 constituencies. The party has already won one seat in the Senate,
when its candidate took more than 50 percent of the vote in the first
The Civic Democrats also won elections in 12 of the country's 13 regions at the weekend. They are expected to form coalitions with the Christian Democrats on most regional authorities.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic was at 8.9 percent at the end of
October, down from 9.1 percent a month earlier, according to figures
released by the Labour Ministry on Monday. Mild weather which boosted
activity in construction and tourism is credited with the slight fall
in the unemployment rate.
Inflation, meanwhile, rose by 3.5 percent on an annual basis in October, which is the biggest increase since March 2002.
The Czech star hockey player Jaromir Jagr has played his last game in the Czech league and signed with Russia's Omsk. Jagr reached agreement with the club on Saturday; Omsk is currently 12th in the Russian league. Jagr's last game for Kladno, where he had been playing due to the NHL lockout, saw the star forward help down opponents Liberec on a score line of 5-4.
The opposition Civic Democrats swept regional and Senate elections in the
Czech Republic on Saturday, finishing ahead of both the Communist Party
and the ruling Social Democrats in a key electoral test. Out of a possible
675 regional mandates the right-of-centre Civic Democrats secured 291
seats, followed by the Communists with 157, and the Social Democrats with
The Civic Democrats' exceptional performance means they dominate in 12 of 13 of the country's regions.
The Civic Democrats were equally convincing in the Senate race where one-third of seats was up for grabs. One Civic Democrat candidate won outright, while a further 20 Civic Democrat candidates hold leads going into the second round to be decided in a week's time.
In all 26 Senate seats remain to be decided with the Communist Party, the Social Democrats, the Freedom Union, the Christian Democrats also in contention - as well as smaller parties like the European Democrats and the Greens vying to reach the Senate for the first time.
The Czech Tourist Office has revealed statistics showing that over 72 million tourists visited the Czech Republic in the first three quarters of 2004 - roughly the same as the previous year. The vast majority of visits, however, involve day-trips in which tourists come to the country on short business trips or to shop. According to the tourist office the number of tourists who actually spend at least one night in the country is around 5 million per year. The Czech Tourist Office has reported that the number of visitors from neighbouring countries has actually fallen in 2004, despite a simplification of procedures at border crossings following EU accession in May.
Tennis player Radek Stepanek has missed an opportunity to win his first ATP title - the prestigious Paris Masters. On Sunday the Czech player was downed in the final by Russia's Marat Safin, who had previously won the title in 2000 and 2002. Stepanek lost in three sets 6-3, 7-6, 6-3, making 48 unforced errors to Safin's 18. Safin's win makes him only the 2nd player to ever win the Paris Masters three times. Germany's Boris Becker was the 1st.
The weekend's election results - in particular the ruling Social
Democrats' poor finish - were greeted as bad news for Prime Minister
Stanislav Gross, who took over as chairman of his party in June. The
regional and Senate elections were widely gauged as Mr Gross' first
serious electoral challenge, a measure of public opinion ahead of
parliamentary elections in two years' time. But, his party came up
short and some notable Social Democrats have been unable to hide their
Mr Gross has himself commented his party's performance by saying he was "not happy" with the results, although he added they were an improvement over his party's dismal finish in European parliamentary elections earlier in the year. Mr Gross also said the low voter turn-out, just shy of 30 percent, had benefited the other parties.
Finally, on Sunday Czech President Vaclav Klaus - who is honorary chairman of the Civic Democratic Party - also commented the election results by issuing a written statement saying that voters had sent an "extraordinarily important signal" to him and Czech society.
In the statement Mr Klaus said that the results of the elections showed the current coalition government was "not steering the country in the right direction".
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