The opposition Social Democrats have triumphed in the Senate elections,
winning a majority in the upper house of Parliament.
On Saturday, 12 of the party’s candidates out of 22 in the running clinched seats, bringing the party’s total in the 81-member Senate to 41. It is the first time the party will have a majority in the upper house and represents potential complications for the centre-right government. The Social Democrats will now be able to slow down, although not overturn, economic reforms and other measures planned by the coalition.
In the runoffs for 27 of the upper house’s 81 seats, the coalition Civic Democrats won eight contests on Saturday, TOP 09 two, and newcomers Public Affairs none. Additional Senate seats were clinched by the Christian Democrats (who will again have a senators’ group) and independent or regional party candidates. Voter turnout in the second round was considerably lower than in the first: less than 25 percent of voters took part in the runoffs.
Trabant enthusiasts have gathered for a weekend of events celebrating the East German car on the outskirts of the Czech capital. The event is known as the Trabantiáda. On Saturday more than 150 Trabis and similar vehicles such as Wartburg cars and Barkas vans, drove by Prague Castle. The festival is being held by the lake Džbán in Prague 6.
Well-known political analyst Jiří Pehe – a former advisor to Václav Havel – has launched a new book analyzing the career of Václav Klaus as finance minister, prime minister and the country’s president. Sub-titled ‘A Portrait of a Politician in 20 Acts’, the book was presented at a Prague cafe on Friday. At the launch, Mr Pehe admitted he took a critical view of the president, but nevertheless described Klaus as a key figure. In the book, the author suggests that the president had lost momentum in recent years, focussing overly on his own career.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas reacted to the Senate election results on
that the government was ready to consult key reforms with the opposition
Social Democrats. But he warned that it was up to the Leftist party to use
its new position in the Senate positively and not create a stand-off
between the houses of Parliament.
Regarding his own party, the prime minister said the Civic Democrats’ clinching of eight mandates was a result that had been realistic. Because the Civic Democrats’ Přemysl Sobotka is the chairman of the Senate, Mr Nečas also made clear he would not be surprised if the Social Democrats now asked for the post.
A little later, in a second press conference, the PM congratulated the Social Democrats on their historic result but made clear that it was the government coalition that had been given the mandate in general elections earlier this year to push through reforms.
Police have been monitoring a demonstration by right-wing extremists in Prague 1. A police spokeswoman said that around 100 members or sympathizers of Narodní odpor had gathered to protest “political trials”. The event has been scheduled to last until seven in the evening; the police have not registered any disturbances but made clear they are ready to step in if need be.
Hundreds of police officers on Saturday resumed the search for
Janatková – eleven days since the child disappeared in the Prague
of Troja on her way home from school. Special units, including the
police, were aided by fire fighter teams descending into
difficult-to-access areas, including wells, a police spokeswoman said.
Earlier this week, the police had announced a breakthrough in the case, charging a 41-year-old suspect on the basis of forensic tests: traces of his DNA were found on items belonging to the missing girl. But the suspect was released on Friday after a court rejected a police request that he be remanded in custody. Saturday’s Mladá fronta Dnes writes that the police were caught off guard by the decision and failed to prepare surveillance. According to the daily, the suspect has not been seen since his release.
The second round of the Senate elections included a number of notable contests as well as close results: in Prague 6 Civic Democrat Petr Bratský only just edged TOP 09’s Bedřich Moldan; the head of the Senate, Civic Democrat Přemysl Sobotka won easily in Liberec, staving off Social Democrat challenger Stanislav Eichler; and Social Democrat and former EU Commissioner Vladimír Špidla failed to beat Civic Democrat Tomáš Jirsa in the region of Česky Krumlov.
In hockey, Czech defenceman Roman Polák scored for the St.Louis Blues in
their NHL game on Friday against Chicago. The game was tied at two apiece
in the 3rd period when he rifled a shot past goalie Marty
Turco who was reportedly screened. The Blues won by a
final score of 4:2.
In another game on Friday, Czech defenceman, Jan Hejda, scored his first goal of the season for Colorado although his team was overrun 6:2 by the Calgary Flames.
A construction employee suffered a work injury on Saturday when he was hit
by falling rocks in Prague’s Blanka tunnel. A police spokeswoman said
accident happened in a part of the tunnel near the Sparta football
An ambulance was called to the scene at around 1:30 pm. Further details
about the accident have not been revealed.
Sections of Blanka tunnel being constructed in Prague collapsed on three different occasions, twice creating massive craters in the city’s Stromovka park and once on the grounds of the Culture Ministry, where a worker was buried in the collapse and rescued only after several hours.
The winners of the Senate elections, the Social Democrats, meanwhile, said on Saturday in their press conference that the election results represented change in the Senate. Acting leader Bohuslav Sobotka said that his party would not back unfair reforms and stressed that he looked forward to a real dialogue – and broader discussion - on reform plans.