The Social Democratic Party has ruled out support for the proposed
centre-right government. Following a meeting of the party's executive
leadership, party boss Jiri Paroubek said his Social Democrats would
not enter into talks on supporting or even tolerating the centre-right
coalition government since both its line-up and policy programme were
incompatible with his party's priorities.
Party leader Jiri Paroubek on Thursday met with President Klaus and proposed his own solution to the drawn-out political crisis. He said that if the prime minister's second attempt at forming a government failed, his party would be open to negotiations on a coalition between the two strongest parties and the Christian Democrats. He said that in this manner the country could avoid a constitutional crisis.
A total of 157 drivers have lost their drivers licenses after receiving 12 penal points for traffic offences since a strict new road law went into effect in July of last year. Traffic police say penal points are most frequently given for speeding and drinking and driving. Both independent experts and traffic police agree that the new road law has significantly influenced drivers' behaviour and statistics show a steady decline in the number of road deaths.
Under fire from many of his party colleagues, Prime Minister Topolanek said on Thursday he would resign as party leader if his second attempt at forming a government failed. Mr. Topolanek's first attempt at forming a cabinet failed in October, but President Klaus entrusted him with the task once again a few days later. His chances of securing majority support in the upcoming confidence vote are slim due to an even division of power between right and left parties in the lower house.
The provisional Social Democrat chairman of the lower house Miloslav Vlcek has said he would, with all probability, resign from his post on January 30th. Before his election to the post of chairman Mr. Vlcek pledged to give up the job if two attempts to form a government failed. That was because it is the chairman of the lower house who will have the task of selecting a prime minister designate for the third attempt and, as a Social Democrat, Mr Vlcek's choice would be open to allegations of a party bias. The parliamentary parties will need to reach some kind of consensus on who should succeed Mr. Vlcek and select the next prime minister.
Following a stormy debate on Thursday, the Civic Democratic Party leadership agreed to back the prime minister's centre right coalition government, asking deputies to support it in the upcoming confidence vote. The decision was approved unanimously despite the fact that many senior party members do not approve of the division of ministerial posts. President Klaus has also expressed reservations regarding the cabinet line-up and has criticized the prime minister for failing to secure majority support for it in the lower house. It is not yet clear when he will appoint the new government.
A number of Civic Democratic Party regional organisations are calling on
Mirek Topolanek to step down as leader if his latest attempt to form a
government fails. Prime Minister Topolanek has signed a coalition deal
with the Christian Democrats and the Greens. The same three parties failed
a vote of confidence in October; they would need the support of at least
one left-wing rebel to pass a confidence vote.
Prague Mayor Pavel Bem - first deputy chairman of the Civic Democrats - said Mr Topolanek should allow somebody else to try to form a government, if the proposed coalition fails again.
Mr Topolanek on Wednesday apologised for publicly criticising several senior party figures, including Mr Bem, President Vaclav Klaus and outgoing finance minister Vlastimil Tlusty.
Almost 65 percent of Czechs are opposed to the idea of a United States missile defence base being built in the Czech Republic, suggests an opinion poll commissioned by the Foreign Ministry in December and quoted in Mlada fronta Dnes on Thursday. The US is set to decide in the early part of this year whether to build the site in the Czech Republic or Poland.
Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech could make a return to competitive football as soon as January 20. He has been out of action since sustaining a skull fracture in October. Cech had been expected to return in mid February. But the manager of his club Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, says the Plzen-born star needs to return as soon as possible, after a run of poor results.
Czech soldiers returning from Iraq say their replacements will be working in more dangerous conditions. Almost 40 Czech military police officers returned to Prague on Thursday, completing a tour of duty which began in December 2003. Their commander Ladislav Tvrdy said that while his officers had trained Iraqi police on bases, the next Czech contingent will have to accompany the Iraqis between stations, putting themselves at increased danger.