The Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek has said he will not be making a return to the national team for a Davis Cup tie against the USA in February. Stepanek refused to play in the Czech team under previous coach Cyril Suk, but had been expected to play under current boss Jaroslav Navratil. On Friday, however, the world number 19 issued a statement saying he had decided not to return.
A proposed coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and
the Greens would introduce a direct vote for the position of president,
Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. The paper said the move could help
appease President Vaclav Klaus, who enjoys considerable popularity and is
expected to seek a second term.
Mr Klaus has expressed reluctance about appointing the three-party coalition, which is one vote short of a majority; it would need the support of at least one rebel left-wing deputy to win a vote of confidence.
The Czech Republic has been without a stable government since elections in June ended in stalemate.
Public health officials have stopped three companies from producing
foodstuffs, after traces of the bacteria listeria were found in their
products. The firms, all based in Moravia, will not be able to resume
production until they prove their products are safe and recall their
foods from distribution.
Traces of listeria were found in three adults and a baby who died in November. Seventeen people were also reported ill with the bacteria, which officials said was a high number for the time of year.
Two men beat up a physical education teacher in Hradec Kralove after he had rebuked one of the men's sons, TV Nova reported. Teacher Miroslav Jerie, who is 57, had his nose broken and sustained other injuries in the attack, which took place during a lesson. Mr Jerie has begun criminal proceedings against his assailants. Meanwhile, the boy's mother says the teacher beat her son and has herself filed a complaint against Mr Jerie.
Meanwhile, in response to the president's rejection, the executive leadership of the Civic Democratic Party held emergency consultations on Friday, after which the prime minister indicated that he was ready to make some personnel changes in the proposed cabinet. He said he would discuss the matter with the Christian Democrats and the Green Party. President Klaus indicated that he was not happy with the choice of foreign minister, a post that was to go to senator Karel Schwarzenberg. All three parties of the proposed government have now expressed readiness to hold talks with Mr. Klaus in order to clear up any doubts regarding the candidates for individual ministerial posts.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek said his party was willing to discuss conditions under which it would be prepared to tolerate a centre right cabinet. He said that President Klaus had brought the rival Civic Democratic Party down to earth with a bump, but that this would have happened anyway during a confidence vote in Parliament. Mr. Paroubek said that while from a constitutional angle the president's decision to reject the proposed government was controversial, he understood the practical reasons that had led him to make this decision.
President Klaus has said that he would eventually appoint the centre-right cabinet proposed by Prime Minister Topolanek, despite his reservations to it. Mr. Klaus on Thursday rejected a proposed three party coalition made up of the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Greens. He expressed reservations both with regard to the cabinet set up and the fact that the prime minister did not have any guarantees that it could win a confidence vote in the lower house. The president's spokesman Petr Hajek said on Friday that the president was bound by the Constitution to appoint the government presented by the prime minister but he felt he had a right to express his opinion on the matter.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has criticized the state attorney's decision not to prosecute Jan Kubice, head of the organized crime squad, in connection with the leak of a classified report. The report in question was intended for the Defense and Security Committee of the lower house and suggested that organized crime had penetrated the state administration. It also contained allegations of pedophilia directed against then-prime minister Jiri Paroubek. The report was leaked to the press just days before the June general elections. Jiri Paroubek said at the time it was a pack of lies intended to damage his party ahead of the elections and filed charges of slander. He has now said he will consider further legal steps.
Although the president has promised to appoint the proposed cabinet it is still not clear whether it could win a confidence vote in the lower house. The right wing parties have just 100 seats in the 200-seat lower house and the new government would thus need to secure support from at least one opposition deputy. The Civic Democratic Party has indicated that it hopes to gain support from what it calls "constructive" opposition deputies who would be prepared to tolerate or support a centre right cabinet in order to bring the drawn out crisis to an end. The fact that the June general elections produced an even division of forces between left and right parties in the lower house is at the heart of the country's political problems.
President Klaus on Friday signed into law the state budget for 2007. The projected deficit is 91.3 billion crowns, which may reach some 4 percent of GDP and falls short of any reforms needed to prepare for the adoption of the euro currency. The government has already said it would postpone the adoption, originally planned for 2010, to an unspecified later date. The debate over next year's state budget was overshadowed by the country's ongoing political crisis.