The centre-right coalition cabinet of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek faces
a crucial vote of confidence on Friday which it hopes will end a
seven-month period without a stable government resulting from inconclusive
elections. The governing coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian
Democrats and the Green Party has exactly 100 votes in the 200-seat lower
house but two MPs from the Social Democratic Party had agreed to enable
the government to win Friday's vote by not taking part in it.
This is the second chance for Mr Topolanek to form a cabinet after his first minority Civic Democrat government failed a confidence vote in October. The coalition government has set itself an ambitious series of targets, such as to reform public spending and the pension and healthcare systems, but it is unlikely to find majority support for its goals in the chamber.
Czech Television and the internet news server Aktualne.cz have reported that Czech fugitive billionaire Radovan Krejcir was detained in the Seychelles for illegal arms possession but was later released. Radovan Krejcir fled the Czech Republic in 2005 to avoid prosecution in a number of criminal cases, including conspiracy for murder. He has lived with his family in the Seychelles ever since.
The European Court of Justice has ruled the Czech Republic is breaching EU law regarding recognition of qualification of medical doctors and dentists. The court upheld an earlier decision by the European Commission which will now decide on further steps against the Czech Republic. The EU criticises the fact that doctors and dentists from other EU countries working in the Czech Republic for a short period of time need to register with the Czech medical chamber while under EU legislation they only need certificates from their home countries.
Culture Minister Helena Trestikova says she is ready to resign from her post if she is forced to appoint Frantisek Formanek as her deputy. Mrs Trestikova said she had refused to appoint him earlier as she had chosen another candidate for the post. Mrs Trestikova said on Thursday she understood that the current political negotiations were complex but she was not willing to sacrifice her honour and dignity in order to keep her post.
The Social Democrats say they are ready to monitor the property situation of MPs Milos Melcak and Michal Pohanka not only in the near future but even after five or ten years. Party leader Jiri Paroubek made the statement on Thursday, one day ahead of a crucial confidence vote in the lower house. Social Democrat MPs Melcak and Pohanka said earlier they were prepared to enable the centre-right coalition government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to win confidence in Friday's vote. The Social Democrats have made allegations of corruption.
The coalition government led by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek approved
on Wednesday its policy statement with which it will ask the Chamber of
Deputies for a vote of confidence. Deputy prime minister Petr Necas
made the announcement during the government session on Wednesday
without giving further details. The centre-right coalition made-up of
the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and Greens has included in
the document concessions agreed with Social Democrat deputies Milos
Melcak and Michal Pohanka in return for tolerance for the government.
In agreement with the MPs, the government has pledged, for example, not to raise taxes but to introduce tax reform that will be advantageous for all income groups. The government is also to draw up a new bill on non-profit hospitals that will guarantee the existence of teaching hospitals based on the non-profit principle.
The CTK news agency reports that the Social Democratic Party might be facing bankruptcy. Prague lawyer Zdenek Altner says he has filed a bankruptcy petition saying the party owes him 18 billion crowns (or 850 million US dollars) for his services in a legal dispute over the ownership of the party's Prague headquarters. The amount demanded includes interest and sanctions. The party has not commented on the report.
The Social Democratic Party has called on two rebel MPs to give up their
mandates in the lower house. The party took the step a day after deputies
Milos Melcak and Michal Pohanka confirmed they would allow the country's
newly-appointed government a chance of winning Friday's confidence vote.
The deputies appeared alongside the prime minister in a surprise press
conference on Tuesday, saying that their main motive was to bring an end
to the country's prolonged political crisis. Both confirmed they would
absent themselves from Friday's vote, theoretically tipping the scales in
the government's favour. In return they gained a number of concessions
including a promise by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek that his cabinet
would consult with the opposition on major reforms.
The Social Democrats immediately expressed anger over the developments: party leader Jiri Paroubek has called the men "traitors" and warned his party would file lawsuits against them on the suspicion of corruption.
The AFP news agency has reported that a court in the region of Olomouc
has confirmed that a Czech hospital in the east of the country should
apologise to a 24-year-old Romany woman for having sterilized her
without her consent. At the same time, the court also ruled she is not
entitled to compensation. The landmark case is the first of around
eighty complaints submitted by Romany women who say they were
sterilized without permission. The latest ruling confirmed an earlier
decision in November against which both the hospital and the Romany
woman, Helena Ferencikova, appealed.
Mrs Ferencikova was sterilized in 2001 at a hospital without consent after giving birth to her second child. Hospital doctors said that it carried out in the interests of the patient's health and that she had signed a letter of agreement. But, Mrs Ferencikova has said she was only given the document to sign when she was already in the throes of birthing pains.
She had been asking for compensation of one million crowns, (the equivalent of around 45,000 US dollars). The court has sought guidance from the Supreme Court on whether or not she may entitled to financial compensation for moral damages suffered.
The session of the lower house formally lasted just fifteen minutes on
Wednesday with Social Democrat MP Miloslav Vlcek staying on for the
time being as the chamber's speaker. Originally, the Social Democrats
had hoped to pave the way for Mr Vlcek's resignation and subsequent
re-election ahead of Friday's confidence vote. Mr Vlcek is bound by a
public promise he made to step down ahead of a possible third attempt
to form a government. His subsequent re-election would have guaranteed
that as speaker he would have been responsible for appointing the next
prime minister designate, in the event that the government's failed to
secure a majority.
As it stands now the current coalition led by the Civic Democrats is now expected to win its confidence vote on Friday. It is unclear how long Mr Vlcek will now remain as speaker of the lower house, or whether the Social Democrats will push for their leader Jiri Paroubek to replace him.
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