This past weekend was another tragic one on Czech roads. Eleven people died in traffic accidents during the last weekend of October, eight on Saturday, and three on Sunday. Another 37 people suffered serious injuries as a result of automobile accidents. The high death total continues a string of deadly weekends on Czech roads; over the past several months approximately every second weekend has registered a high number of fatal automobile accidents.
The results of a new survey conducted by the CVVM agency show that 74 percent of people trust President Vaclav Klaus, while only 28 percent of those polled expressed trust in the government of acting Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. The CVVM poll also indicates that people are dissatisfied with the current political situation of the Czech Republic—only 17 percent of respondents said that they are satisfied with the political scene since the June elections. As a result, the lower and upper houses of parliament registered their lowest ratings in the past year. CVVM conducted the survey during the first week of October, before the Senate elections.
The Civic Democrats have started a new round of discussions regarding the
formation of a government. The Civic Democrats, who won the largest number
of seats in the lower house in the June elections but do not have a
majority, expect to be given a second chance to try and form a government.
A first attempt by the Civic Democrats failed in early October, with the
loss of a vote of confidence in the lower house. President Vaclav Klaus is
now expected to give the Civic Democrats another opportunity to find a
solution to the current government stalemate - this on the basis of the
Civic Democrats' strong showing in the recent Senate elections.
The Civic Democrats are planning to hold discussions with all the parties in the lower house. On Monday morning, Civic Democratic chairman and acting Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek began talks with the Green Party, centering on ways to dissolve the lower house and call early elections. Mr. Topolanek has said that his aim is to bring the country to early elections. The Social Democratic Party chairman Jiri Paroubek remains opposed to the idea of early elections in the Czech Republic.
A new judicial complex has opened in Prague 10. The country's newest and largest complex of judicial buildings was inaugurated on Monday morning, after the completion of renovation work to three historic buildings at Na Micankach. The construction cost the Ministry of Justice more than 2.5 billion crowns (over $112 million US), and the buildings will be home to more than 40 percent of Prague's judicial branches. The complex houses 98 courtrooms, 38 interview rooms, 30 holding cells, and is connected by underground hallways. Ombudsman and former justice minister Otakar Motejl was on hand to open the complex.
Vojtech Filip, the chairman of the Communist Party, says that his party could agree to early elections and support a caretaker government even if the Social Democratic Party would not be involved in such an arrangement. Mr. Filip made the remarks in an interview for Monday's edition of the daily Lidove Noviny. Since the June elections, the Communist Party has been pushing for a government of national unity with a limited mandate. The initial condition of the Communists' was that such a government have the support of all parties in the lower house, but now Mr. Filip says that an agreement on a temporary government could be made even without the Social Democrats. Mr. Filip said that so long as the Civic Democrats nominate an independent expert as prime minister, the Communist Party has no reason not to support the proposal.
The Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami (57), has received the Franz Kafka Award at a ceremony at Old Town Hall. Mr. Murakami, who was among this year's contenders for the Nobel Prize in Literature, travels very rarely but told reporters that he chose to come to Prague because he holds Franz Kafka in high esteem, and considers it a great honor to receive an international literary award named for the author who called Prague home. Haruki Murakami has read many of Franz Kafka's works and considers him a personal favorite. It is Mr. Murakami's first visit to the Czech capital.
The chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Jiri Paroubek, made a brief public appearance Monday afternoon, following a meeting with Civic Democratic Party leader, Mirek Topolanek. Mr. Paroubek told the press that a grand coalition between his Social Democrats and the right-of-center Civic Democrats is no longer a realistic way out of the political stalemate. Until now, Mr. Paroubek has suggested a grand coalition between the country's two largest political parties as a viable alternative to early elections. The Civic Democrats have dismissed this option consistently since the June elections ended in a deadlock.
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.