Czechs voted for a second day on Saturday in Senate and local elections that could mark a turning point in the country's drawn out political crisis. Voting took place for local town and city councils and for a third of lawmakers in the 81-seat upper house of parliament, the Senate. Some 180 parties and movements contested seats on town and city councils, with the battle in Prague winning the most attention. Polling stations closed at 14hrs CET on Saturday with results expected late in the night or Sunday morning. A second round of voting for the Senate takes place next weekend in constituencies where no candidate has won more than 50 percent of the vote.
The former president Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar will be spending the next four months in the United States where Mr. Havel is expected to give several lectures. The Havels will attend a theatre festival of Mr. Havel's work and divide their time between New York and Washington. Vaclav Havel recently turned seventy.
The speaker of the lower house Miloslav Vlcek said on Saturday the Social Democrats may file a complaint challenging the regularity of the elections because of the way the media reported on a corruption scandal surrounding people close to the Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek. Less than 48 hours before polling stations opened a former deputy minister for regional development who is charged with abusing EU structural funds told police investigators that the former Social Democrat prime minister Jiri Paroubek was involved in the fraudulent practices she was accused of. Mr. Vlcek said some journalists had reported on the case as if the Social Democrat leader were guilty. The Social Democrat leader has said he is not in favor of filing a complaint.
President Klaus told journalists that he had done his utmost to promote Prague as the seat of the Galileo European Navigation system at Friday's informal EU summit in Finland. I do not like lobbying but I feel I may have scored a point, Mr. Klaus told reporters on his return. The Galileo European Navigation System is a joint initiative of the European Commission and European Space Agency. It should be launched sometime in 2008 and eleven states have made a bid to host it.
With approximately half of the votes counted it is the centre right
Civic Democrats who have the lead in both the Senate and local
elections. Preliminary results indicate a 47 percent turnout. Interest
in the elections has been sharpened by its likely impact on the
country's drawn-out political crisis which followed June's inconclusive
The Senate election results could tip the constitutional balance of power and thus indirectly influence not just the set up of the country's next government, but the outcome of the next presidential election in 2008 and possible changes to the Constitution.
President Vaclav Klaus who cast his vote on Saturday morning, said he did not think the outcome of the elections would have a decisive impact on the talks on forming a new government. Mr. Klaus, who has been holding talks with party leaders in order to ascertain their position on a future government set up, has made it clear that he would not name a new prime minister designate until after the second round of Senate elections next week.
Tenth seed Gonzalez reached his first Masters Series final when he defeated the Czech numer one Tomas Berdych 6-3 6-1. Berdych folded under the pressure of a hostile home crowd, while Gonzalez gave him no respite as he pounded him with his pin-point serve and wrapped up victory in 52 minutes. "I've never seen anything like it, it's like a bad dream. It's not a tennis crowd," Berdych said later. Berdych beat defending champion and local hero Rafael Nadal in the quarters, provoking the anger of the world number two and local fans.
Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil is considering pressing charges against Jana Hybaskova, head of the European Democrats, who recently accused him and two other Civic Democrat officials of corruption. Mrs. Hybaskova said last Tuesday that a representative of the governing party had asked her for a three million crown bribe in a certain financial transaction which was to be paid to Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil, Finance Minister Vlastimil Tlusty and another unnamed party deputy. Mr. Pospisil said the accusations were outrageous and unless Mrs. Hybaskova publicly apologized he would take her to court.
Officials have revealed that customs officers on Thursday seized around 39 million crowns - the equivalent of around 1.8 million US dollars - worth of counterfeit goods during the checking of a shipment to Prague, as well as the investigating of an open-air market. The shipment revealed more than 8,000 pieces of fake brand-name clothing, while inspection at the market in the district of Prague 7 came up with almost 700 pieces of imitations goods and jewellery. It is the second-greatest amount of counterfeit goods seized in Prague in a single day.
Czechs have begun voting in Senate and local elections with polls opening at 1400 hours CET on Friday. Voting is taking place for local town and city councils and for a third of lawmakers in the 81-seat upper house of parliament, the Senate. The vote is seen as the first major test of public opinion since parliamentary elections proved inconclusive in June. A second round of senate elections will take place next weekend seeing a head-to-head between the two top-finishing candidates who failed to gain 50 percent of the vote in the first round. Polling stations will close at 14 hours CET on Saturday.
Czech league football champions Liberec got off to a good start in Group C action in the Uefa Cup's on Thursday evening. The team earned a deserved 0:0 tie against Spain's Sevilla, coming out strong and just missing several opportunities to take a lead - and all three points - in the game. The other Czech side in action on Thursday was Sparta Prague which also had chances but was downed 2:0 by Espanyol.
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