The head of the Christian Democratic parliamentary party, Vlasta Parkanova, has confirmed she will run for the post of party chairperson at the Christian Democrat national convention in December. Other candidates are Senators Jiri Cunek and Adolf Jilek and former MP Jiri Karas known for his strictly anti-abortion stance.
Meanwhile, the Social Democrats have announced they will not join the four-party ruling coalition being proposed by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, that would rule only until early elections in 2008. Party leader Jiri Paroubek made the announcement on Sunday evening after a meeting with other Social Democrat negotiators. The Social Democrat leader said his party has its own proposal for a cabinet including the Social Democrats, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, and the Christian Democrats, that would rule for a regular four year term.
The Transport Research Centre says the traffic accident rate in the Czech Republic has dropped by a fifth since a penalty points system was implemented in July. A decrease is apparent in the number of injured and killed on the roads. The centre's director, Josef Mikulik, admitted, though, that drivers have since relaxed their vigilance and started breaking traffic rules again. In the five months since the new system has been in place, 74 drivers have lost their licence after they collected 12 penalty points for driving offences.
In related news, Senator Jiri Cunek - a strong contender to become the next leader of the Christian Democratic Party - has told the Czech newspaper Pravo he will not support a centre-right government made up of the Civic Democrats, the Greens, and his own party - a government that by definition would have to rely on votes from rogue MPs. Instead, Mr Cunek is backing the same proposal being favoured by the Social Democrats - a coalition excluding the Greens and the Communists - that would run the country until at least 2009. Mr Cunek came under criticism last week from his party's acting leader Jan Kasal for having met privately with Social Democrat chairman Jiri Paroubek.
President Vaclav Klaus has cancelled a meeting with Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek scheduled for Monday during which Mr Topolanek was to inform the president about the ongoing talks about the formation of a government. A spokesman said the president cancelled the planned meeting with the prime minister after their morning phone call revealed that there had been no progress so far in the negotiations about the formation of a new government. Prime Minister Topolanek wanted to form a coalition of his Civic Democrats, the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens that would rule the country until early elections in 2008.
The value of counterfeit goods confiscated on Sunday by customs officers in the Czech Republic's second largest city of Brno has been estimated at 105 million crowns - the equivalent of around 5 million US dollars. Most of the products confiscated at warehouses were imitation brand-name goods: perfumes, textiles, shoes, and entertainment goods, weighing in at a total of around 50 tonnes. A spokesman said the raid was part of a nationwide operation, code named Marie, targeted at counterfeited products.
The prime minister and Civic Democrat chairman, Mirek Topolanek, has said the remarks by his aide caught on hidden camera are in line with his party's official stance and therefore there is no reason to apologise. On Sunday Social Demcorat chairman Jiri Paroubek said he expected an explanation and apology from the prime minister regarding alleged comments by his aide Marek Dalik, who supposedly attempted to win over several Social Democrat MPs to switch allegiance in an attempt to break the political deadlock.
The Minister for Regional Development Petr Gandalovic has said he is in favour of eventual changes that would redefine the legal relationship between landlords and tenants, namely in cases of apartments falling under regulated rent. In the 1990s in the Czech Republic many property owners gained tenants along with previous property confiscated by the communist regime. Mr Gandalovic, speaking on TV Prima on Sunday, said he imagined a "socially-acceptable" period that would act as a buffer before decrees on apartments were replaced by mutually agreed contracts between landlords and tenants. Mr Gandalovic was debating Social Democrat MP Stanislav Krecek, who opposed the idea. Mr Krecek countered by saying that young families starting out couldn't be expected to sign leases limited to terms of one or two years.
A sixteen-year-old boy and his twenty-year-old accomplice have been charged with theft with regards to an attack on a loans & debts representative on Friday. The two, using a meat tenderiser, attacked a representative of Provident Financial home credit when he came to their address. A third person, a female, was also present. The man attacked suffered a blow to the head but managed to escape and is being treated in hospital. Police arrested the two suspects within twenty-four hours.
In related news, Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek suggested to the
press on Sunday that further negotiations between his party and the
right-of-centre Civic Democrats led by Mirek Topolanek - would be
halted unless the prime minister explained comments by a close aide -
as revealed by the Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes. According to the
Saturday edition, Mr Dalik has been trying to woo a number of Social
Democrat MPs - including one who recently left the party's deputies'
club - to support a three-party coalition excluding the Social
Democrats. Mr Dalik denied the story but his remarks were reportedly
recorded by hidden camera.
Earlier, Mr Paroubek called on the prime minister to apologise for his aide's words; he has since indicated he will be seeking reassurances from Mr Topolanek that talks between the Social and Civic Democrats are being taken seriously if they are to continue.
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