The Social Democrats are willing to enter a three-party coalition government and hold early elections in mid-2008 if necessary. Speaking at a special press conference on Monday, party leader Jiri Paroubek said he did not object to a coalition government with the Civic Democrats and the Christian Democrats that would be evaluated after a year in office. Mr Paroubek added that his party is willing to make concessions in the government negotiations but ruled out support for the introduction of a flat tax and university education fees.
Fans of the legendary Rolling Stones will most likely be able to see the band in concert in the Moravian capital Brno next summer. The British rock band were scheduled to play in Brno this year but had to cancel following an injury suffered by guitarist Keith Richards. Media reports say Brno concert promoters Glanc are now in discussion with the band's managers over a suitable concert date next year.
The outgoing cabinet of Mirek Topolanek proposes to issue new bonds worth almost 133 billion crowns (an estimated 6 billion US dollars) to cover national debt security that the Czech Republic will have to pay in 2007 and 2008. A bill that would make this possible has already been presented to the Chamber of Deputies, which has been asked to give it the green light in its first reading.
The Civic Democrats will continue to lead government negotiations with the aim of holding early elections, the party's leadership decided on Monday. Mirek Topolanek, who was re-elected party leader this weekend, is expected to hold talks on the possibility of holding early elections with various parties this week. Latest opinion polls suggest that the Civic Democrats would win with 35.1 percent of the vote if elections were held this month.
The Communist Youth Association has decided to take the interior ministry to court over last month's decision to dissolve the small far-left group. The ministry banned the association on the grounds that it violated the Czech constitution by striving to replace the private ownership of the means of production with nationalisation. The Communist Youth Association says the ministry is violating its right to the freedom of expression and has filed a complaint.
The controversial Christian Democrat senator Jiri Cunek has announced that he wants to run for the post of party chairman. Mr Cunek recently made headlines when he called the eviction of a number of Roma rent defaulters the "removal of an ulcer". The Christian Democrats will elect a party chairman at their national conference in two weeks' time.
Dozens of Vietnamese entrepreneurs are testing the Czech market and working on forming chains of grocery stores, the Czech Business Weekly (CBW) reports. Former chairman of the Prague-based Association of Vietnamese Entrepreneurs Nguyen Duong tells the paper that the chains will open mainly in small towns and compete with international supermarkets as well as Czech grocery stores. Their aim is to fill the gap left by the two established retailers Delvita and Droxi who have announced their departures from the Czech market, CBW writes.
Czech police, investigating whether an attendee at a skinhead concert near the south Bohemian town of Tabor on Saturday broke the law by doing the Hitler salute, have come under criticism from the human rights group Tolerance as well as Czech Senator Jaromir Stetina. The non-government organisation and the senator have said that police should have intervened to prevent neo-Nazis from gathering. A Tolerance representative has said that while lyrics sung at the concert were not explicitly racist, they contained a racist subtext. Around 250 skinheads attended the site on Saturday, while some 150 police were on hand monitoring. Officers reportedly intervened only occasionally to check attendees' identities but say they did not witness any breaking of the law. They were not asked, for example, by the town to step in.
Delegates on the 2nd day of the Civic Democratic Party's weekend congress have ruled out the possibility of a 'grand' coalition or 'tolerance' pact between their party and the Social Democrats. The decision was taken early Sunday evening. Delegates did not address a proposal to ban cooperation between the Civic Democratic Party and the Social Democrats altogether.
Speaking on a Sunday TV news programme the leader of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek has said he thought the Czech Republic could have a new stable government by early December. Mr Paroubek said he favoured his party participating in a yet-to-be negotiated government led by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, but said that he himself would not seek a cabinet post. By contrast, on Sunday Mr Topolanek told public broadcaster Czech TV that he would not predict when the new government would be formed, but said that he will keep President Vaclav Klaus informed on the latest developments. The newly re-elected Civic Democrat chairman has asked his party to give him a mandate ruling out exclusive cooperation with the Social Democrats and is looking for a solution involving one to four parties, in other words all the non-communist parties in parliament.
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