President Klaus is to meet with the leaders of all five parliamentary
parties in the course of Thursday and Friday to try to resolve the
post-election stalemate. Since June's inconclusive general elections,
which gave the right and left block 100 seats each in the lower house, the
leaders of the two biggest parties - the centre right Civic Democrats and
the Social Democrats - have been arguing over what kind of coalition
government should be formed.
The leader of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek has refused to support a centre right coalition and earlier this week he gave a lukewarm response to an offer to join the three parties in a rainbow coalition. Mr. Paroubek said he preferred to discuss other alternatives such as a grand coalition or a minority Civic Democrat government with tacit support from the Social Democrats. These scenarios were in turn rejected by Civic Democratic Party leader Mirek Topolanek, whose party won the elections but lacks a majority in parliament.
It is not clear whether the lower house will make another attempt to elect a new leadership on Friday. The Social Democrats have refused to put forward a candidate for the post of speaker and it seems there may not be anyone in the running.
In a related development, the leader of the Green Party Martin Bursik has accused the leader of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek of trying to win over some Green Party deputies in order to gain the upper hand in the lower house. Mr. Bursik did not name any names but said he was aware of what was going on and wanted the public to know what was happening.
An investigation into a battle over the rights of two children by the Ombudsman's Office has gone in favor of their Argentine father. The Ombudsman said on Wednesday that the children's mother Marcela Krajinkova had violated the law - in effect abducted them - when she took them out of the country without their father's consent. The mother took her case to court in the Czech Republic hoping to be allowed to keep her children on the grounds that she was allegedly physically and psychologically abused by her husband in Argentina. When the court ruled that her two children should go back to Argentina she appealed to the Ombudsman for help.
A team of American military experts are due to arrive in the Czech Republic next week to consider possible sites for a US missile base in central Europe. The visit has been described as a fact finding mission which places no commitment on the Czech Republic. Washington is also considering possible sites in Poland and Hungary. The possibility of having a US missile base on Czech territory has evoked mixed reactions in the Czech Republic, although several Czech politicians have already given the idea their support. Such a move would have to be approved by both houses of parliament.
Czech consumer price inflation slowed in June to 2.8 percent on a 12-month basis from 3.1 percent in May, the Czech Statistical Office reported on Wednesday. A rise in the costs of food and non-alcoholic drinks was the main factor fuelling inflation with the price of cereals and bread rising by 5.2 percent from the figures in May, the office said.
Warner Home Video (WHV), a company responsible for the distribution of videos and DVDs in 98 countries, has decided to close its branches in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech news agency, CTK, reports that the decision comes as a result of the high degree of piracy in the two central European countries, as well as the saturation of the home video market. Sales of DVDs in the Czech Republic dropped by 19% last year, a figure that experts say illustrates the high rate of digital piracy. As of October 2006, the license for distribution of WHV programs in the Czech Republic and Slovakia will be acquired by Magic Box entertainment, a division of the central European group AQS.
Social Democrat chairman and outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has
said that his party is prepared to support a minority Civic Democrat
cabinet or to agree with the Civic Democrats on a caretaker government.
Speaking after a party leadership meeting on Tuesday morning, he said that
his party was unlikely to accept the offer made by Civic Democrat chairman
Mirek Topolanek to join the ongoing coalition talks. In an article
published in Tuesday's Hospodarske noviny, Mr Paroubek indicated that he
considered the formation a caretaker government agreed on by the Social
Democrats and the Civic Democrats to be the only solution to the
Reacting to his rival's declaration, Mr. Topolanek says that his Civic Democrats are not prepared to accept the idea of a caretaker government composed of his party and MPs from the Social Democratic Party. Mr. Topolanek says that Mr. Paroubek's rejection of Monday's offer to participate in coalition talks is destructive.
The centre-right coalition of the Civic Democratic Party, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens offered the Social Democrats a place in the coalition cabinet on Monday. Before the weekend, the coalition also said that it was ready to support the election of a Social Democrat as the speaker of the lower house of parliament. The next round of talks about the creation of a new government is scheduled for Wednesday.
Healthcare workers have registered a sharp increase in salmonella cases in north Bohemia. The cause of the three-fold increase in cases is being credited to a wedding reception—half of the guests experienced digestive problems afterwards—and to the seasonal temperature highs. Doctors are warning people to ensure that foods are properly cooked, and to pay special attention to grilled meats during the summer barbeque season.
Health Minister David Rath has dismissed the director of the National Drug Control Institute, Milan Smid. Mr. Rath told reporters that Mr. Smid failed to fulfill tasks assigned to him in January, which included compiling detailed reports on certain drugs and their position on the global market. The minister says he required the report while drafting his controversial cost-saving proposal that would require Czechs to pay for certain medicines. Mr. Smid has not commented his dismissal.
Milan Baros's move to Hamburg is in doubt, after the chairman of his present club Aston Villa described an offer made by the Germans as unacceptable. The Czech international striker has not made a great impact since joining Villa last summer; however chairman Doug Ellis said the club would not let him go on the cheap, after paying almost 12 million dollars for him.
President Vaclav Klaus, who is on an official visit to Romania, has
said that it is necessary to seek a solution to the current election
stalemate and involve the Social Democratic Party in the process. But
Mr Klaus said he could not predict whether Mr Topolanek's offer to the
Social Democrats to join the emerging coalition was a way out of the
Speaking to reporters in Bucharest on Tuesday morning, Mr.Klaus said that he intends to meet with leaders of all five parliamentary parties during the course of Thursday and Friday, so that he can hear their views on the current post-election deadlock. Mr. Klaus said that the time for him to become engaged in the process of forming a new government has come, and that he intends to devote his attention to matters of the domestic political scene upon return to Prague Wednesday evening.
A third attempt to elect a leader of the lower house is planned for Friday, though it remains unclear who the candidates will be.
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