This weekend saw the end of the tourist season at hundreds of castles and chateaux around the country. Visitors flocked to the sites for the last time his year, attracted by various special programmes including exhibitions, food tastings, and tours by guides dressed as historical figures. One of the country's most popular castles, Karlstejn, will remain open to visitors throughout the month of November. Krivoklat and Konopiste close their doors on weekdays.
The Greens are considering naming their own candidate for the 2008 presidential elections. In Sunday's televised debate, party leader Martin Bursik said it is very likely that their candidate would be a woman. The results of the Senate elections have increased the chances of current president Vaclav Klaus being elected to a second term in office. Seventeen years after the revolution, though, the country is ready to be led by a woman, Mr Busik said. However, he did not reveal whom he had in mind.
A new solar power plant, which is now the biggest in the country, has been launched in the northern town of Hradek nad Nisou. The plant is capable of generating up to 61 kilowatts and has been erected on the roof of the local T.G. Masaryk elementary school. The project of the civic association Via Regia cost 11.4 million crowns (just over half a million US dollars), 8.4 million crowns of which came from the EU's Phare programme.
The Civic Democrats will most probably gain a second chance to form a new
government. President Vaclav Klaus will ask the party that won most votes
in the municipal and Senate elections to decide who should be entrusted
with the task, the president's secretary Ladislav Jakl said on Sunday. The
first attempt at forming a new government since the June elections ended in
deadlock failed as the minority government of Civic Democrat leader Mirek
Topolanek was unable to gain a vote of confidence in Parliament.
In a Czech TV discussion programme with the chairmen of all five parliamentary parties, Mr Topolanek said he favoured a caretaker government that would lead the country into early elections - preferably in May or June. Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek opposed the idea of early polls and said a grand coalition between his party and the Civic Democrats is the most stable way out of deadlock.
Twenty-two personalities have been awarded with state honours and
medals for bravery. The state distinctions were presented by President
Vaclav Klaus at a traditional ceremony at Prague Castle, which is held
every year on October 28 - the anniversary of the foundation of an
independent Czechoslovak state in 1918. The Order of the White Lion,
the country's highest state honour, was given to WWII veterans Antonin
Spacek and Josef Bryks, who died in 1956 and was given the distinction
Among the others who received state distinctions were cross-country skier Katerina Neumannova, Chairwoman of the Confederation of Political Prisoners Nadezda Kavalirova, football legend Josef Masopust, and actress Iva Janzurova.
At the traditional October 28th ceremony at the national memorial on
Prague's Vitkov Hill, a minute of silence was held to commemorate those
who fell in battle and wreaths were laid at the memorial of Hussite
warrior Jan Zizka. Besides hundreds of spectators, the event was
attended by senior politicians like the president, prime minister,
defence minister, and Senate chairman, as well as the Army's
chief-of-staff, and members of the Czechoslovak Union of Freedom
A separate ceremony was also held in Prague's National Museum on Saturday, organised annually by the Czechoslovak Union of Freedom Fighters and the Union of Czechoslovak Legions.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek says his party lost potential votes due to the recent arrests of several former Social Democrats. The party has secured five more seats than it enjoyed before the elections but had eleven candidates in the running. Mr Paroubek considers the arrests part of a smear campaign to undermine his party. Complaints and law suits will be filed, he told reporters on Saturday.
The Civic Democrats have come out the clear winners of the elections of one-third of the Senate. Of the 27 seats that were up for grabs in the 81-seat upper house of Parliament, the right-of-centre party secured fourteen. Their biggest rivals, the centre-left Social Democrats won six seats, and the centre-right Christian Democrats four. The remaining three seats were divided between the Party for an Open Society, the Independent Mayors, and an independent candidate. Neither the Communists nor the Greens managed to win enough votes to secure a seat. The senators are elected for six-year terms.
Some 500 soldiers who are joining the country's professional army pledged their allegiance at Prague Castle on Saturday. The soldiers, among them several dozen women, made their pledges in front of President Klaus, Defence Minister Jiri Sedivy, Chief-of-Staff General Pavel Stefka and members of their families. President Klaus also named five new generals and general Stefka named 19 new colonels.
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