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 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 Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova has stated that the government has now approved the deployment of the 6th field hospital to Afghanistan. The unit will operate at Kabul airport. If both houses of parliament approve the mission, hospital personnel will leave for Afghanistan in March. The sending of the hospital unit with around 70 personnel for one year will cost 150 million crowns (the equivalent of around 7 million US dollars) to be covered by the Defence Ministry budget. The ministry says that NATO could defray a part of the costs. The mission to Afghanistan was requested by NATO last year. The unit has been deployed in that country before and has also operated in Iraq.
The Civic Democratic Party's executive body has assessed a report by Prime
Minister Mirek Topolanek outlining preparation for Friday's confidence vote
in the Chamber of Deputies, and praised steps taken by party negotiators.
The news was made public Wednesday evening by the party's first deputy
chairman Pavel Bem. On Wednesday the body also approved the policy
statement of the coalition government, including a number of last-minute
changes, concessions to the two rebel Social Democrat MPs who have agreed
to leave the chamber during Friday's vote.
The development marks a turn-around in fortunes for the prime minister who faced criticism from some Civic Democrats in recent weeks. Mr Bem stressed that Mr Topolanek had broad support from the party leadership. He himself was one of Mr Topolanek's more prominent critics concerning efforts at forming a coalition government with the Christian Democrats and the Greens. On Wednesday Mr Bem expressed confidence all Civic Democrats would vote in favour of the centre-right cabinet during Friday's vote.
Poll: Bem, Parkanova most popular politicians
A new poll released by the STEM agency has suggested that Prague Mayor Pavel Bem and Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova currently top public popularity. Mrs Parkanova and Mr Bem were rated favourably by 63 percent of those queried, followed by Jiri Cunek, the head of the Christian Democratic Party, and Martin Bursik, leader of the Greens. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek was seventh on the list with 38 percent favourability, while Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek was tenth. Communist Party leader Vojtech Filip rounded out the bottom of the list, finishing twelfth.
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.
Collapse of Prague footbridge raises concerns regarding state of other bridges
Some like it hot: Czech Republic sees rise in number of household saunas
ANO leader Andrej Babiš appointed Czech prime minister
Czech wage rises continue apace, low earners seeing larger increases
Czech protesters run out of patience as Prague brutalist building faces demolition