The outgoing Civic Democrat Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Petr
Necas, has accused the ministry of commissioning projects to selected
firms without a public tender. The projects were worth 3 billion crowns
(close to 133 million US dollars) and were commissioned in January 2005
at the latest, Mr Necas told reporters on Tuesday. Several ministry
officials are already being investigated on suspicion of corruption.
Minister Necas' predecessor Social Democrat Zdenek Skromach has denied the allegations and says they are an attempt to discredit his party just days before the local and senatorial elections.
The coalition of the Association of Independent Candidates and European Democrats (SNK-ED) said on Tuesday that a number of officials at the finance ministry were guilty of corruption. Earlier this year, a court ruled that the finance ministry was to pay the SNK-ED 15 million crowns (around 660,000 US dollars) in campaign contributions. The party says it was told by finance ministry officials that it would get the money if it agrees to give 3 of the 15 million crowns to a person who can ensure that the payment is made. Though Finance Minister Vlastimil Tlusty is not suspected of being involved, the SNK-ED says the officials it dealt with were people he closely works with.
The tight security measures that were put in place in Prague over three weeks ago are to be relaxed. Following a meeting with the Security Council on Tuesday, outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said there is no more reason to believe that the country still faces a terrorist threat. The authorities never revealed why Prague was put on high security alert. According to Mlada fronta Dnes newspaper, the secret police were informed about a plan to take Jewish visitors to a Prague synagogue hostage and then kill them.
An Interior Ministry team of inspectors has proposed to bring three criminal charges against the head of the Czech Police's organised crime department. Jan Kubice and two of his subordinates are suspected of abuse of power, slander, and the unauthorised handling of private data. The charges are linked to an investigation into how a classified report that was drawn up by Mr Kubice got into the hands of the media. The document on the links between organised crime and political parties was leaked to the public just days before the general elections in June.
The outgoing Civic Democrat cabinet of Mirek Topolanek proposes to sign pre contracts with pharmaceutical companies to guarantee the supply of 60 percent of the flu vaccines for next year. The proposal is part of the government's flu pandemic plan, which was approved by the Security Council on Tuesday. The aim is to have enough vaccines in supply by the end of the first quarter of 2007 to protect one fifth of the population against the threat of a flu pandemic.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek says a grand coalition between his
party and the Civic Democrats would be the most secure way out of
political deadlock as it would enjoy the highest support in the lower
house of parliament. A caretaker government that would lead the country
into early elections would be the weakest option and therefore the
least preferred by his party, Mr Paroubek said. Mr Paroubek says there
are two other options for resolving the government vacuum in place
since the June elections. They are a minority government of the Social
Democrats and a coalition government composed of his party, the
Christian Democrats and the Greens. Both types of government, though,
would lack a majority in the 200-seat lower house.
Mr Paroubek's Social Democrats are expected to meet with President Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle on Wednesday.
A new poll released by the Factum Invenio agency suggests that if early elections were held, the Civic Democrats would win with 35.9% of votes, and the Social Democrats would secure 27.2% of votes. The poll's findings indicate that the Communist Party would place third with 13.9%, the Greens would get 8.4%, and the Christian Democrats 6.9%. Thus according to these results, the Social Democratic Party has decreased in popularity since the June elections, while the Greens have improved their ratings.
Jiri Paroubek, chairman of the Social Democrats, held a press conference
on Monday morning to clarify interpretations based on his appearance on
Sunday's TV talk show program hosted by Vaclav Moravec. Mr. Paroubek says
that he did not offer the Civic Democrats a grand coalition arrangement
during the TV debate, as was widely reported by the media. Mr. Paroubek
said that he views the possibility of a grand coalition as one of four
possible options for resolving the government vacuum in place since the
June elections resulted in a political deadlock. The other options listed
by the Mr. Paroubek include a coalition government composed of the Social
Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens, which would need to
rely on support from the Communist Party in order to count on at least 101
seats in the lower house; and a caretaker government; or a Social
Democratic minority government. In Sunday's TV debate, Mr. Paroubek said
that he would not have a role to play in the case of a grand coalition
between the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats.
The Civic Democrats have dismissed the possibility of a grand coalition with the Social Democrats. Mirek Topolanek, the Civic Democratic leader and his deputies met with President Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle Monday afternoon; Mr. Klaus told the press that he is also opposed to a grand coalition.
This past weekend marked another high number of tragic deaths on Czech roads. Eleven people died as a result of automobile accidents this past Saturday and Sunday. Police statistics show that recently every second weekend has marked a high number of traffic fatalities. There were a total of 655 accidents recorded this past weekend.
Sunday's edition of the TV political talk show, Otazky Vaclava Moravce, which airs on CT1 registered more than three-quarters of a million viewers. This past weekend Vaclav Moravec's guests were Civic Democratic Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, and the chairman of the Social Democrats, Jiri Paroubek. The high viewer interest generated by the ongoing instability on the Czech political scene resulted in Vaclav Moravec's show of October 15 being the most-watched program in this autumn's television line-up thus far.
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