A new poll released by the Stem agency has suggested that the fortunes
of the ruling Social Democratic Party have continued to improve,
following a damaging government crisis earlier in the year. According
to the poll, which backs the findings of another survey last month, the
Social Democratic Party would now gain some 21 percent of the vote, 2nd
behind the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. The latter party's numbers
have not changed, with voter support of 32 percent.
The latest poll suggests that the Communist Party would be third, while the Christian Democrats would be the last to make it into Parliament, at 7 percent, were elections held today.
Czech authorities have said no subsequent security measures have been
planned following a series of blasts in London on Thursday. Interior
Minister Frantisek Bublan said current measures were sufficient, and that
there was no need to call a meeting of the National Security Council.
Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Vit Kolar meanwhile said that not enough
specific information was currently available. On Thursday four detonators
exploded in the London subway and on one bus, injuring one, two weeks
after suicide bombers killed more than 50 people in the British capital.
London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair called Thursday's
in London "very serious". Two suspects have been taken into
Following the deadly attacks in London on July 7th the Czech Republic reinforced police patrols at key sites including the Prague metro, railways, airports and strategic buildings, as well as border crossings.
Prague's Ruzyne international airport has registered a 15 percent rise in the number of visitors who passed through its gates in the first six months of this year, compared to last, a total of almost 5 million visitors. Airport representatives expect that as many as 10 million could pass through Ruzyne by the end of 2005. The Czech Airport Authority is currently building a new dispatch terminal which will be partly functional in August - and fully functional early next year. The project has cost a reported 8.5 billion crowns, around 340 million dollars US.
The prime ministers of both countries also discussed urgent matters including finding a compromise on the proposed EU budget for the years 2007 - 2013, a budget that failed to find backing at the most recent summit of the EU. Following Thursday's meeting the men made clear they would push for quick compromise while recognising the need for wider economic reform in the bloc. The EU failed to agree the budget plan for 2007-2013 last month after Britain blocked any deal which would limit its rebate unless there is a reform of farm subsidies which most benefit France.
Property belonging to the wife of former prime minister Stanislav Gross was auctioned for 6.3 million crowns on Thursday, the equivalent of over 250, 000 dollars US, months after Mr Grossova suspended original business activities. Questionable business dealings and financing led to an eventual government crisis that resulted in her husband stepping down. Mrs Grossova and business partner Libuse Barkova had originally intended to use the property for the construction of a luxury housing area.
The Polish Prime Minister, Marek Belka, in a visit to Prague on Thursday, praised as "brave" a proposed conciliatory gesture by Czech counterpart Jiri Paroubek, recognising the efforts of ethnic German anti-fascists in Czechoslovakia ahead of World War II. Mr Paroubek' s conciliatory gesture has already found backing from Austrian leader Wolfgang Schussel, but has not found support from figures like Czech president Vaclav Klaus or Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda. An estimated 2.5 million Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia following the Second World War.
The president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Thomas Dine, is expected to step down as president of the stations, based in the centre of Prague, later this year - although a spokesperson on Thursday failed to confirm an exact date. Mr Dine took over at RFE/RL in 1997, now broadcasting from Prague for ten years. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, financed by the US Congress, is still awaiting a final decision approved by the US Congress that would see the stations moved to a new location in the city away from the city's Wenceslas Square, where the station has been gauged as a security risk, ever since terrorist attacks took place in New York and Washington in September 2001.
Several Romany organizations have protested against the government's decision to lower the subsistence level, thereby lowering social benefits for the unemployed. The bill, prepared by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry wants to motivate people to actively seek a job instead of relying on social benefits. It would also lower the amount of financial support given to people with large families allegedly to prevent parents from living off their children. Romany representatives have slammed the proposal calling it racist and discriminatory and arguing that many of them cannot find work no matter how hard they try.
At is session on Wednesday the Cabinet approved a series of bills, among them a long-awaited bill on conflict of interests, a bill which would enable municipalities to regulate prostitution and a bill on absentee balloting in the elections. The Cabinet also approved a 76,4 billion crown state budget deficit in 2006. The proposed draft envisages expenditures of 906 billion crowns and revenues of around 830 billion crowns. All of the proposed bills still need to be approved by Parliament.
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