Experts from the Civic Democratic, Social Democratic and Christian Democratic parties that are negotiating about the future government have identified several points on which their respective parties will not agree. Among those are personal income tax, payments for hospitalisation, the volume of social spending and a law on non-profit hospitals. The leaders of the three parties are to assess the contentious points and decide on the final version of the government's programme. Prime Minister designate, Mirek Topolanek, is to present the names of new cabinet ministers to President Vaclav Klaus later this week.
Former Czech president and anti-communist dissident Vaclav Havel has urged tourists to shun Cuba as a holiday destination, in a video message showing solidarity with Cuban dissidents. The video shows the former president dressed in a prisoner's uniform, sitting in a make-believe waiting room amongst patients who are completely oblivious of him while Mr Havel recalls a personal experience of being taken, as a political prisoner, from his cell to a dentist's surgery in town where people in the waiting room pretended not to see him. Mr Havel's message was aired at a conference organised by Polish Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president Lech Walesa, aimed at showing solidarity with dissidents in Cuba.
President Vaclav Klaus will begin a two-day visit to South Africa on Tuesday, the first ever by a Czech head of state. He is set to meet President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria to discuss political and economic issues. South Africa is the Czech Republic's biggest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa - nearly 40 percent of its trade with the region takes place with South Africa. Later on Tuesday, President Klaus will speak at the opening of a South Africa-Czech Republic business forum in Pretoria.
Prague's Barrandov Studios say they have opened the largest film studio in Europe. Construction work started this spring on an area of some 4,000 square metres and the final cost has reached 200 million crowns. The studios say it has been the biggest investment in the Czech film industry in the last sixty years. The first foreign production to be shot in the new studio will be the sequel to the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
According to a report by the Czech Statistical Office, the number of foreign nationals living in the Czech Republic reached 310,000 in September, which is around 2.5 percent of the country's total population. The office said the most foreigners live in the capital Prague but the numbers are rising across the country, with citizens of Ukraine being the most numerous community.
The Prague Stock Exhange's PX index set a new trading high point of 1623.9 points shortly before noon on Monday following a 0.76 percent advance during morning trading. The Czech electricity giant, CEZ, fuelled the rise, rising to a record high point of 1001.0 crowns. Analysts say other leading shares also rose as investors tried to fill their portfolios before the end of the year.
The Prague city hall is planning to establish a special working group involving doctors and social workers, to tackle issues connected to homeless people in the capital. The number of homeless persons in Prague is estimated at 6,000 and there is a shortage of beds available for them in winter months. A special boat on the Vltava River should serve as a dormitory for homeless people as of January and in the case of severe weather, a special tent city will be raised like last year.
Overall, politicians from rival parties have welcomed Mr. Cunek's election to the post of chairman. Pavel Bem, deputy chairman of the Civic Democrats, said he saw this as a step in the right direction. Zdenek Skromach, deputy chairman of the Social Democrats said Mr. Cunek's election was good news above all for the Christian Democrats since it would give the party a chance to recover from its slump. And Communist Party leader Vojtech Filip is hoping that Mr. Cunek's pragmatic attitude may help the Christian Democrats overcome their long-standing aversion towards the Communist Party. Political analysts are careful in their predictions but several have expressed the belief that Mr. Cunek's election could improve the party's ties with the Social Democrats.
Aneta Langerova has been voted singer of the year in the Czech Nightingale Awards held on Saturday night. Langerova, the winner of the Czech Republic's first ever pop idol, defended last years title of best woman singer, beating Lucie Bila who was top of the ladder for several year in a row. In addition to that the young Langerova received the overall Czech Nightingale award - as singer of the year - a title that usually goes to the Czech singing legend Karel Gott. Mr. Gott received the best male singer award. Lucie Bila who came second in the women's category said she would work so hard next year she would make sparks fly.
Mr. Cunek's election to the post of chairman has divided the Christian Democrats, some of whom see him as a highly controversial figure. The new party leader has fought off accusations of racism in recent weeks after evicting several hundred Roma rent-defaulters from the centre of Vsetin. However Jiri Cunek's supporters vastly outnumber his critics and they expect his election to give the party new impetus and possibly take it in a new direction. Many see him as a decisive and pragmatic politician who will boost the party's flagging credit ratings.