Outgoing prime minister and Social Democratic chairman Jiri Paroubek thinks that holding early elections before January 2009 would not threaten the success of the Czech Republic's scheduled term at the helm of the European Union. The Czech Republic is due to hold the E.U. presidency from January to June 2009. During the past week, Mr. Paroubek has indicated that his Social Democrats would be willing to tolerate a Civic Democratic minority government for a limited time, and that early elections could be held in the autumn of 2008.
Outgoing prime minister Jiri Paroubek has asked the ministers of defense and foreign affairs to prepare a proposal regarding Czech military involvement in Lebanon. The ministers have been asked to have the proposal ready in time for the next cabinet meeting, and Mr. Paroubek says that the size of a possible Czech military unit and its strategic focus should become public next week. Mr. Paroubek first spoke about an active role for Czech forces in Lebanon within the framework of the U.N. mission earlier in the week, though Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda was far more cautious about the possibility, stressing that such a move warrants serious considerations. After more than a month of fighting, a U.N. resolution has secured a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon.
A serious accident on the D1 highway between Prague and Brno left the motorway closed for more than ten hours in the early hours of Saturday. A long-haul truck crashed into a colony of thirteen cars, sending three people to hospital with injuries; all are expected to make a full recovery. The incident happened near Strechov, central Bohemia, the site of other serious accidents in recent years.
Meanwhile, Christian Democratic leader, Miroslav Kalousek, says that his party is definitely taking the position of an opposition party in the lower house. Mr. Kalousek told reporters that it remains unclear whether Christian Democrat MPs will vote directly against Mr. Topolanek's proposed minority government in a vote of confidence, or simply walk out of the lower house prior to the vote. Nonetheless, Mr. Kalousek is taking the position that any previous cooperation agreed upon within the three-party coalition framework has been dissolved given the new efforts to have a minority Civic Democratic government supported by the Social Democrats.
Several tens of people protested on Saturday against plans to store nuclear waste in the Klatovy region of west Bohemia. The protest went ahead even though government plans to proceed with the construction of a nuclear waste storage facility have been put on hold until 2009. A spokesman for a concerned group of citizens said that people are afraid of water contamination, as well as possible terrorist attacks.
Prime Minister designate, Mirek Topolanek, has indicated that he will
likely nominate Pavel Zarecky for a ministerial post in the emerging
Civic Democratic minority government, even though Mr. Zarecky is not a
Civic Democrat. Mr. Zarecky led the Committee on Legislation and served
as minister without portfolio in the previous Social Democratic cabinet
of Jiri Paroubek. Mr. Topolanek revealed his intentions in an interview
for the Saturday edition of the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, though he
refused to name others who may figure in his new minority cabinet,
saying only that names which appeared during the previous negotiations
with the three-party coalition still stand.
Mr. Topolanek is currently in the process of trying to secure an agreement from the Social Democrats by which a minority Civic Democratic led government would be tolerated. Reports say that an agreement between the two largest Czech political parties could be on the table sometime next week.
While Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic has withdrawn from singles
play at the Rogers Cup in Montreal due to shoulder pain, two tennis
stars with Czech roots have advanced in the tournament. Martina Hingis
has reached the women's semifinals in singles play, with a victory over
Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova, 7:6, 6:3.
And in doubles play, Martina Navratilova and her Russian partner Nadia Petrova are through to the semifinals with a victory over the number-one seeded team of Zi Yan and Jie Zheng of China, 6:4, 3:6, 6:4.
A Czech Roma woman, Elena Gorolova, has made her case of sterilization public at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Ms. Gorolova underwent a sterilization procedure in Vitkovice's hospital in 1990 after giving birth to her second child. She testified that while still under the influence of a sedative, doctors told her further pregnancies could threaten her life, and thus she signed the papers allowing sterilization. Ms. Gorolova told the U.N. Committee Against the Discrimination of Women that she wasn't properly informed of her rights, and that she believes the sterilization procedure was recommended because she is Roma. Ms. Gorolova's case is not the first of its kind in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic ranks thirteenth among European countries for the most web pages devoted to travel and tourism. The data was released Friday by Internet Security Systems, which ranked the country 21st overall in the world. According to ISS, the number of websites devoted to selling vacation packages has risen by over a quarter in the last year, with 60% of all such sites registering in the United States. The company Forrester Research notes that 1/3rd of Euros that Europeans spend on-line go towards the purchase of tourism packages.
Prime Minister designate, Mirek Topolanek, says that he is not expecting
the Christian Democrats and the Green Party to support a Civic Democratic
minority government in a vote of confidence in the lower house. Mr.
Topolanek made the statement in an interview for the daily Hospodarske
Noviny, clarifying that there must be a basic agreement between the two
largest parties—the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats—in order for
any government to work. However, Mr. Topolanek also says that he also
hopes to cooperate with the smaller parties—the Christian Democrats and
the Greens—throughout his government's mandate.
Following June's elections which left the lower house split 100:100 for left vs. right parties, Mr. Topolanek's Civic Democrats worked on a coalition deal with the Christian Democrats and the Greens, but were still left with one vote short of a majority in the lower house.
Mr. Topolanek is currently in the process of forming a minority government. The current government's ministers will stay in their posts until a new cabinet is formed. As it stands, the country also has two prime ministers, with Jiri Paroubek standing as the acting prime minister until Mirek Topolanek forms a new cabinet.
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