Former chairman Milos Zeman has announced he is quitting the Social
Democratic Party. The Czech Press Agency reported that Mr Zeman made the
decision after learning that current leader Jiri Paroubek had initiated
criminal proceedings against him over a case in which a lawyer is suing
the party over unpaid fees. For his part, Mr Paroubek said Mr Zeman's
resignation was a desperate attempt to influence a party conference next
Mr Zeman lead the Social Democrats for eight years and helped make the party one of the strongest forces in Czech politics. He was prime minister from 1998 to 2002.
The main party in the governing coalition the Civic Democrats would come first in fresh elections with almost 35 percent, suggests a poll conducted in the middle of this month by the CVVM agency. The opposition Social Democrats would come second with 29 percent of votes, followed by another opposition party the Communists on 15 percent, the poll indicates.
The Chamber of Deputies has approved the dissolution of the Ministry of Information Technology. Its tasks will be taken over by the Interior, Industry and Regional Development Ministries, if the move is approved by the Senate and the president. Interior Minister Ivan Langer said the Information Technology Ministry should cease to exist in the middle of this year. It was created by the last government in 2003.
The town of Pardubice in east Bohemia is the best place to live in the Czech Republic, according to an extensive survey carried out by the daily Mlada fronta Dnes. It used 50 indicators - including unemployment rates, property prices and air pollution - to gauge the quality of life throughout the country. Prague came third overall, though it was first when purely economic factors were considered.
The minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, says problems surrounding the head of the Czech police, Vladislav Husak, could reflect badly on the force. Mr Langer said he would talk to the police chief this week, but did not reply when asked if he was planning to dismiss him. Mr Husak has been accused of leaking sensitive police information.
Environment Minister Martin Bursik says he will demand the resignation of Jiri Cunek if he does not answer corruption charges by Friday. Mr Bursik said an investigation into alleged bribe-taking by the deputy prime minister and minister for regional development was having a negative impact on the government. But Minister Bursik said the two posts should remain open and be returned to Mr Cunek if he clears his name.
A three-day conference on the Charter 77 protest movement has just begun in Prague. Entitled "Charter 77 - From Human Rights Advocacy to Democratic Revolution 1977 - 1989", the conference is being attended by a number of former dissidents. They include former Czech president Vaclav Havel and current European Affairs minister Alexandr Vondra, as well as the Polish journalist Adam Michnik.
The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, sent a letter containing his views on climate change to the US House of Representatives, ahead of a committee level debate on the issue. In a reply to questions put to him by members of the House, Mr Klaus said "ambitious environmentalism" has replaced communism as the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity.
Prague city mayor Pavel Bém has been given permission to take a long leave of absence in order to climb Mt. Everest. On Tuesday, Prague city council approved an agreement which allows the mayor, who is a keen mountaineer, to take two months unpaid in order to fulfil his dream of climbing the world's highest mountain. Mr Bem is to depart with a team of Czech and Slovak climbers for the Himalayas next week. He had been heavily criticised for taking so much time off from his duties as Prague mayor.
The economic daily Hospodarske noviny writes that Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Necas is preparing a package of measures that he believes would allow the government to annually save 23 billion crowns (over 1 billion USD) on welfare benefits. The largest sum is to be saved on parental benefits and sickness benefits and the government also intends to withdraw social security benefits from people with higher incomes, the paper says. However, the changes will be smaller than was expected, Hospodarske noviny writes.
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