The finance ministry has released figures showing a state budget surplus of 7.6 billion crowns - the equivalent of roughly 340 million US dollars - in the first half of 2006. The figure is almost twice the surplus during the first six months of the previous year. On Monday at a press conference, Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced that the outgoing government had decided on a provisional budget deficit amounting to 88 billion crowns for 2007. This would translate into a public spending deficit of 3.3 percent of the gross domestic product. According to the finance minister, the proposal is fully in line with the convergence programme agreed for the development of overall debt and public finance deficits between Prague and the European Union, in preparation for adoption of the single currency euro. The Czech Republic intends to adopt the currency in 2010. The proposals will have to be approved by the incoming government. So far, a new government has yet to take office one month after Czechs went to the polls in a general election.
Czech national team manager Karel Brueckner will sign on for a further
two years as the coach of the national Czech football squad, in a deal
that is as good as signed, a top member of the national football
federation has said. On Tuesday Czech and Moravian Football Federation
board member Vlastimil Kostal revealed that only a few formalities now
stood in the way of a new agreement. He made the announcement shortly
after meeting personally with the coach. The two year extension means
that 66-year-old Brueckner will manage the Czech team through
qualification for the 2008 European Championships in Austria and
The Czech Republic begins its campaign against Wales on September 2nd.
Whether any trade-off becomes reality will apparently still depend on further negotiations: currently the deadlock on "tolerating" the new government has not been resolved. On Tuesday, leaders of the five parties in Parliament - including Civic Democrat head Mirek Topolanek - met to discuss ways of break the stalemate and gain opposition party support. However, the Social Democrats, for example, have so far refused to accept a deal for lower house speaker in return for tolerating the emerging centre-right government. As a result, in the interim the centre-right coalition will propose its own candidate as provisional speaker for the time being: the Christian Democrats' Jan Kasal.
Former Czech president and playwright Vaclav Havel as well as writer
Arnost Lustig have received honorary doctorates from Western Michigan
University - organising annual creative writing courses in Prague. Both
Mr Havel and Mr Lustig were recognised on Monday for their literary
work as well as for their contributions to human rights.
Mr Havel, who is 69, has received a number of honorary doctorates since leaving public office in 2003. Mr Lustig, connected with Western Michigan University's writing courses, said that cooperation between the university and Prague's Charles University formed a connection between America and the Czech Republic. Of Jewish origin, the writer, now 79, survived internment in Nazi concentration camps during World War Two. After the war he worked as a journalist, but left Czechoslovakia after the 1968 invasion by Warsaw Pact troops. Mr Lustig now lives in Washington.
A member of the Social Democratic Party may be offered the chance to be
speaker of the lower house. Late Monday, the right-of-centre Civic
Democratic Party - which won last month's general election, and signed
a collation deal with two smaller parties to form the next government,
announced that it will offer the post to a Social Democrat MP in
exchange for support in a vote of confidence. The three-party
coalition, led by the Civic Democrats, is one mandate short of the
majority needed to pass in a confidence vote.
One of the lead candidates for speaker of the lower house from the Social Democrats could be Lubomir Zaoralek, who has held the post over the last four years.
The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that the general election last month was fully in keeping with law and its results are valid. The court was responding to around 70 election complaints, lodged by a number of regional politicians. The court also rejected a complaint by a Social Democrat who suggested his party had been harmed by statements made by the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party which won the election. All were ruled legitimate within the general pre-election campaign. The court did point to a number of mistakes made by election commissions, but said those had not influenced the election results.
At Monday's meeting of the Social Democratic cabinet, Jiri Paroubek said that he thinks the new law on road regulations, which came into effect on July 1st, is too strict. Reports say that Social Democratic MPs have varying opinions on the new law. Over the weekend, Mr. Paroubek indicated that he is considering a temporary amnesty for drivers found guilty of infractions under the new code. Mr. Paroubek says that possible changes to the law will be considered after next week, when the Ministry of Transportation and the Interior Ministry are due to release a joint evaluation of the new law.
Czech tennis star Nicole Vaidisova has ended her run at Wimbledon
before reaching the quarter finals. The women's number ten seed and
semi finalist at the French Open lost to China's Li Na on the grass
courts on Monday. After a good start for Vaidisova in the first set,
the match ended 6:4, 1:6, 3:6.
In men's action, Radek Stepanek has advanced to the quarter finals for the first time in his career, with a victory over Spain's Fernando Verdasco. The verdict after five sets was 6:7, 6:3, 4:6, 6:4, and 6:2. Stepanek will meet Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden in the quarter final.
Meanwhile, Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic was beaten by Roger Federer, 6:3, 6:3, 6:4.
Civic Democratic Chairman, Mirek Topolanek, says that his party will no longer push for its own candidate to be elected chair of the lower house. Last Thursday, Civic Democratic candidate Miroslava Nemcova failed to gain enough support for the post in a secret ballot. The results of the vote cast doubt upon the three-party coalition between the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens, because not even all of the coalition MPs voted for Ms. Nemcova. Now Mr. Topolanek says that the coalition will propose a joint candidate—that person is expected to come from the ranks of either the Christian Democrats or the Greens. MPs will attempt to elect a new chair of the lower house on Friday.
The Sokol /or Falcon/ athletics body -a physical exercise organization founded in 1862 during the Czech national revival - is holding its 14th all-Sokol meeting at Prague's Strahov stadium this week. Some 18 thousand gymnasts of all ages from all over the world are taking part. The Sokol athletics body is one of the oldest organizations in the world. Its modern era began with its revival after the fall of communism, but even during the dark period of Czech history ex-pats around the world kept its spirit alive. The all-Sokol meeting takes place once in six years.