German MEP Jo Leinen, who chairs the parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Affairs, warned the Czech Republic of isolation on Thursday over a constitutional complaint regarding the Lisbon Treaty filed by a group of Czech senators. Mr Leinen said that the Czech Republic risked isolation and a weakened position in the European Union, and that the EU should not allow a single head of a member state to obstruct the passage of the reform treaty. The complaint, made largely by members of the Civic Democratic Party, is seen by critics even in the Czech Republic as stalling tactic allowing President Klaus to defer his signing of the treaty and thereby its ratification.
Interim Prime Minister Jan Fischer announced Thursday that he believes there are two alternatives for resolving the election crisis. October elections, he said, could be pushed through, however only at the risk of their legitimacy being contested later on. The other option would shift the poll back a month to early November. Political leaders have given a tentative nod to the prospect of November elections. The November date, likely the 6th and 7th of that month, would be established based on a permanent amendment to the constitution. The Social Democratic Party however has made clear it is opposed to November elections and its priority will remain seeing through the original date. The prime minister also emphasised the economic importance of resolving the date of elections as soon as possible, saying that a delay of even one month could pose serious problems for the preparation of a budget for next year.
The number of new personal automobiles and light utility vehicles sold between January and August saw a year-on-year decline of 12.6% to 120,416 vehicles. The sale of personal automobiles alone however grew by 9% due to companies’ interest in switching from utility vehicles to personal cars. The reason for the shift in demand is the fact that, as of April, companies may now deduct VAT from the purchase of personal automobiles.
Meanwhile, the daily Lidové Noviny reports that most of the political parties have made use of less than half of their campaign funds, and intend to begin using the bulk of their finances for the peak campaign season now, in spite of uncertainties over the date of elections. Civic Democrats spokesman Martin Kupka said his party has thus far used only a fraction of its 230 million campaign fund. The Social Democratic Party has not announced its own campaign budget. However, members have indicated the party has already invested some 70 million in campaigning until now. The other main parties have also confirmed that the better part of their funds remains unused. Several fringe parties have also announced they intend to sue the state for compensation should the election date be deferred.
The State Environmental Fund on Thursday approved 107 applications for its Green Savings programme, intended to decrease energy use in residences. Of the available 25 billion crowns obtained for the programme through the sale of emissions credits to Japan, 14 million have been distributed for purposes of domestic heating, the construction of “passive houses” and installation of renewable sources of energy for heating.
Independent Member of Parliament Miloš Melčák, whose case before the Constitutional Court has derailed elections planned for October, has said he has no intention of withdrawing his complaint. Speaking to the press Thursday for the first time since the court announced it would hear his case, Mr Melčák said he was unsurprised by developments since then, adding that the only thing that did surprise him was the reaction of President Václav Klaus, who, he claimed, could be quickly stripped of his own mandate by the same law. Mr Melčák’s complaint to the court contests a so-called “one-time constitutional amendment” dissolving Parliament so as to instigate early elections and thereby allegedly depriving Mr Melčák of his right to hold office. The 70-year-old politician said that he would not damage the credibility of his complaint by withdrawing it, but that he had his fingers crossed that any solutions to the crisis would be lasting ones that neither he nor anyone else would be able to contest.
The Czech Statistical Office has reported that the average wage in the Czech Republic grew by 2.8% in the second quarter of 2009 to nearly 23,000 crowns per month (1,287 USD). According to analysts however, the main reason for the nominal growth is increased unemployment among low-income workers, the result being that the amount of money available to households in the second quarter was, at best, stagnant.
The State Committee on Elections has decided that preparations for the original October date will continue. Speaking to reporters, the committee’s chairman, Interior Minister Martin Pecina, noted that the court had not reversed the act on the dissolution of Parliament and early elections, and said that suspending preparations could lead to delays should the original dates of October 9 and 10 be finalised. The Committee on Elections will decide on its next steps after the Constitutional Court completes its current review of the situation next Thursday. Mr Pecina also said that state and local election authorities have so far spent upwards of 122 million crowns on election preparations.
Three-fifths of academics believe that Czech colleges lack sufficient funds, but at the same time improperly manage what money they do have. The statistic is one of the results of a poll conducted by the Ministry of Education as it prepares a reform proposal for colleges. The survey also suggests that 70% of college professors would be in favour of some form of tuition, and that a majority wants greater independence in their own management, such as in selecting the courses offered.
Czech police have arrested a 41-year-old man who faked his own death in order to evade justice 12 years ago. Petr Žižka, who has confessed, faked his own drowning in Italy in 1997, Právo reported. He had fled the Czech Republic on a family member’s passport after being sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for robbery, the newspaper said. An international warrant for his arrest was dropped when his death was reported. After returning to the Czech Republic two years ago he lived under a relative’s name.