Meanwhile, the Czech skier Lukáš Bauer finished second in an 11.4-kilometre race at Vesec on Saturday, just 12 seconds behind the winner Jean Marc Gaillard of France. That result means Bauer’s overall lead in this season’s World Cup again increased; it would now take a real upset for the 30-year-old from Ostrov nad Ohří not to win the title. But Bauer will have to finish the season on new skis – the ones he was wearing on Saturday were destroyed by stones on the frozen course in Vesec.
Václav Klaus has been re-elected Czech president. On Friday Mr Klaus (66) received 141 votes in the third round of what was the second attempt in a week to elect a new president. The incumbent received the backing of his own Civic Democrats, most Christian Democrat legislators and some others. US-based academic Jan Švejnar, mainly supported by the Social Democrats and the Greens, received 111 votes. Mr Klaus, a right of centre Euro-sceptic, will be sworn in at the beginning of next month, when his current five-year term ends.
Around 100 people have demonstrated against the transporting of snow to Vesec near Liberec for a stage of the Cross-Country Skiing World Cup. Organisers of the meeting built a 1.9-kilometre track at Vesec with snow taken from the Jizera Mountains; they face possible sanctions for damaging a protected area. Those protesting at the World Cup event at Vesec on Saturday also expressed their disagreement with plans to hold the Nordic World Ski Championships there next year.
The France-based English singer and actress Jane Birkin is playing a concert at Prague’s Archa theatre on Saturday night. Birkin is perhaps best known for her collaboration with her second husband Serge Gainsbourg, with whom she recorded several albums and the hit single Je t’aime…moi non plus. The singer, who is 61, is due to perform songs from her most recent albums.
Czech Television said a record 1.37 million people had watched the presidential election live on Friday afternoon. The public broadcaster’s digital channel CT24 also saw high audience figures: 3.1 percent of the TV audience watched its broadcasts, which were the same as on the terrestrial station CT1. Czech Television has won plaudits for its comprehensive and uninterrupted coverage of both elections.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has indicated that Christian Democrat leader Jiří Čunek, who resigned from his government posts late last year because of corruption allegations is welcome to return to the cabinet. The prime minister made this statement just two hours before the start of Friday’s presidential elections at Prague Castle, fuelling speculation that it was a concession made in return for Christian Democrat votes for Václav Klaus. The Green Party, the third party in government, is vehemently opposed to Mr. Čunek’s return. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has said he would leave the Cabinet if Mr. Čunek was invited back.
In his address to the assembled lawmakers earlier today President Klaus condemned the public wrangling and arm-twisting that has accompanied the election. He said it had been a week of threats, lies and dirty deals that the public would find it hard to forget. In reaction to the events of the past week the incumbent called for a public vote and appealed to law-makers to try and make this election dignified.
The results of a poll conducted by the CVVM agency indicate that the majority of Czechs favor direct presidential elections. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they would prefer the president to be elected by the people, 18 percent said the decision-making should remain in the hands of lawmakers.
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