The new Czech Prime Minister, Jiri Paroubek, has said he believes all Social Democrat MPs will support his cabinet in the upcoming confidence vote, however he is prepared to negotiate with the opposition Civic Democrats and Communists. Several Social Democrat deputies have not yet confirmed whether they will vote for Prime Minister Paroubek's government.
The Czech National Bank on Thursday unexpectedly cut interest rates to their lowest level ever, with the key repo rate down by a quarter percentage point to 1.75 percent, a spokeswoman for the bank has said. Analysts say the cuts will weaken the crown for a longer period, bringing down the costs of credits and mortgages.
The Czech car maker Skoda will invest more than 100 million euros (129 million dollars) into its Kvasiny plant for the launch of its new Roomster model next year, the company's board chairman said on Thursday. The company, part of the Volkswagen group, intends to launch production of the vehicle early next year and the car will go on sale in the second half of 2006. The expanded facility will create another 2,000 jobs at the plant in Kvasiny, east Bohemia. It currently employs more than 1,200 people. The plant already manufactures Skoda's top-of-the-range Superb vehicle.
A poll conducted by the Factum agency suggests that the recent government crisis has caused support for the ruling Social Democrats to drop by more than four percent but did not affect the coalition Christian Democrats. The opposition Civic Democrats top the poll with 35 percent of voter support. The opposition Communist Party, with some 26 percent, would become the second strongest party in parliament, if elections were held tomorrow.
A European Parliament report adopted on Thursday says that Hungary, Lithuania and Poland have done best in adopting European Union legislation but the Czech Republic is bottom of the new class. The report showed all 10 countries which joined the bloc last May have done better than critics forecast in implementing the 1,579 directives related to the EU single market. It says that the Czech Republic has yet to transpose 9.6 percent of EU legislation into national law, improve laws on recognition of professional qualifications, implement EU legislation on equal treatment of men and women at work and improve legislation on the protection of personal data.
An Azerbaijani political refugee who was arrested on a brief visit to his homeland has been allowed to return to the Czech Republic. Professor Sadai Nazarov, who was granted political asylum in Czech Republic in 1997, returned to his homeland in January to visit his ailing father. He was arrested on treason charges and spent over three months in detention. His release was secured after weeks of intense diplomatic negotiations, when the Azerbaijani authorities agreed to halt legal proceedings against Nazarov. The 58 year old dissident arrived at Prague's Ruzyne airport in relatively good health and was met by family and friends.
The government has rejected the Civic Democratic Party's proposal of a one-off referendum bill on the EU Constitution. The three governing parties have produced their own referendum bill which is far broader and would enable a referendum to be held on any vital issues relating to the country's future. Both proposals will be debated in Parliament. The approval of either of those bills would open the door for Czechs to vote on the European Constitution. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said that the ratification of the EU Constitution is a top priority. The new Cabinet is expected to launch an information campaign on the EU Constitution within a matter of weeks. President Vaclav Klaus has already come out strongly against its ratification, publishing a brochure in which he enumerates all the possible pitfalls.
Support for the new government of Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek remains uncertain, with five Social Democratic Party deputies unwilling to accept the new government set up. The old-new government must ask for a vote of confidence in the lower house within 30 days of taking office and with its slim majority in Parliament the three party coalition needs the support of all its deputies. The opposition Civic Democrats and the Communists have said they will not support the new Cabinet. The five Social Democratic Party deputies whose vote is uncertain, say they would like to strengthen their party's influence in certain areas of government. Behind the scenes negotiations continue.
Social Democrat MP Jan Kavan has told Czech Radio he knows of "around" five Social Democrat members of parliament who may choose not to support the new government led by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek. The government must face a confidence vote within 30 days. Mr Kavan told Czech Radio that he and colleague Vladimir Lastuvka would vote in favour of the new government if the Social Democrats were allowed a greater hand in foreign policy. But currently the Foreign Ministry falls under the jurisdiction of the Christian Democrats. The new prime minister, aware of Mr Kavan's and the other MPs' reservations, reminded them that if the current government fell it would lead only to early elections.
Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has revealed that the Czech government may try and sell North Bohemia's Severoceske doly brown-coal mine after it completes the privatisation of Vitkovice Steel and Karlovy Vary's Thermal Hotel. Mr Sobotka, however, suggested that - on the whole - large privatisation deals in this election term were over. Since 2002 the Social Democrat-led government sold oil and chemicals group Unipetrol as well as the fixed-line giant Cesky Telecom. Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Mr Sobotka rejected speculation over the privatisation of power producer CEZ, Czech Airlines and the Czech Post, saying such sales were unrealistic and would not even be "kicked-off" at this time.