President Vaclav Klaus on Wednesday met with the speaker of the lower house Miloslav Vlcek, in the last of a series of consultations on forming a new government. As speaker Miloslav Vlcek is legally entitled to pick the third prime minister designate, if two previous attempts to form a government should fail. However, in line with an earlier political agreement, Mr. Vlcek has agreed to forego this right. He reiterated this position following Wednesday's meeting with the president, saying he would resign in the wake of two unsuccessful attempts to form a cabinet. President Klaus is expected to name a new prime minister designate after the second round of Senate elections next weekend.
Deputy Michal Pohanka has unexpectedly left the ranks of the Social
Democratic Party and has withdrawn from the Social Democrat deputies'
group in the lower house. The group's chairman Michal Hasek says he was
informed about Mr. Pohanka's decision in writing on Wednesday morning.
There is no indication that Michal Pohanka is planning to resign as MP and
there is now speculation as to whether the Social Democrats are losing one
vote with his departure from the party. Every vote now plays a decisive
role in the 200 seat lower house which is split down the middle with the
right and left parties having 100 votes each. The Czech Republic has been
without a stable government since elections in June.
In response to the news the Civic Democratic Party issued a statement on Wednesday saying that whatever Mr. Pohanka's reasons for leaving the party they did not intend to exploit the situation. "The Civic Democrats have no intention of forming a government which would have to rely on one turncoat" the party's deputy chairman Petr Necas told the media.
The Czech international football goalkeeper Petr Cech has been released from hospital, ten days after suffering a fractured skull when an opponent collided with him during a game. The 24-year-old is expected to begin light training with his club Chelsea next week. It will be three months at least before Cech can return to full training.
The lower house on Wednesday rejected the Communist Party's proposal that a referendum should decide about the possibility of hosting a US missile base on Czech territory. The Communist Party said the bill would be re-drafted in line with the objections voiced and would be put to the lower house again at the earliest possible date. Although the United States has not yet made a decision on where it would like to station its planned missile base, the Czech Republic is still in the running. Unlike the Social Democrats and Communists, the governing Civic Democrats are not opposed to having a US missile base on Czech territory. On the other hand, public opinion polls indicate that the majority of Czechs are not happy about the idea.
The Civic Democratic Party on Tuesday failed to push through a more lenient form of the road law. The proposed changes evoked heated debate in the lower house with proponents of the law arguing that the strict new norms had saved dozens of lives since July and any step back now would destroy all it had achieved. The Civic Democrats on the other hand believe that the new points system is too strict and opens the door to corruption. In the end there was general agreement that the law should remain in force for some time longer so that its effect could be properly assessed.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer has sent his family abroad for fear of their safety after receiving anonymous threats which the police classified as "very serious". One of the anonymous letters said the interior minister's family home in Olomouc would be blown up. The minister himself is getting heightened protection until the case has been resolved. One of the theories is that the threats could be connected with a recent leak of information from police files, which the Social Democrats claim to have damaged their chances in the elections.
The five parliamentary parties continue to hold differing views on the country's political future and will have to tone down demands if government negotiations are to be successful. This according to President Vaclav Klaus, after meeting with Communist Party representatives on Tuesday. Following the failure of the Civic Democrats to win a confidence vote for their minority government, Mr Klaus faces the task of entrusting someone to try to form a new government. The Czech President intends to hold talks with each parliamentary party and wait for the results of the second round of the Senate elections this weekend before he makes the decision.
The lower house of Parliament has approved a proposal to postpone the obligatory use of monitored cash registers by one year. All cash register activities of small businesses were to be recorded and monitored as of January 2007 in order to help the government fight against the grey economy. Under the new law, those small retailers and restaurants that fail to comply could be fined up to half a million Czech crowns.
Organised crime groups, influential businessmen, and suspected terrorists
are all threatening the country's security, according to a
counter-intelligence service (BIS) report. The annual report for 2005 says
there is evidence that organised crime groups are trying to influence
courts, several entrepreneurs have bribed state employees to gain
confidential information, and there is reason to believe that terrorists
had planned an attack on the Czech Republic.
Last year, for example, three Egyptian nationals failed to enter the cockpit on a Czech Airlines flight from Oslo to Prague. The BIS did not view it as a failed hijacking but a move to test flight security for a future terrorist attack. The three men have been deported back to Egypt.
The Culture Ministry has declared the famous Maj building in Prague a cultural monument. The building, the ministry says, is an important example of 1970s architecture - drawing on earlier styles like Functionalism but its interior foreshadowing the style known as High-Tech. Maj was designed by architects Miroslav Masak, John Eisler and Martin Rajnis of the Liberec SIAL studio and was completed in 1975. Most foreign visitors will be familiar with the Maj building located on the city's Narodni trida street: it's the site of the Tesco department store.
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