The chairwoman of the lower house, Civic Democrat Miroslava Němcová and Social Democrat deputy leader Zdeněk Škromach agreed in a Czech TV debate programme on Sunday that Czechs should be able to vote for the country’s next president in direct elections - rather than the head-of-state being elected by a joint-session of lawmakers from both houses of Parliament. Mrs Němcová said she expected discussion on direct presidential elections and suggested, if legally possibly, the next vote for the head of state be tied to regional elections in 2012 - before Václav Klaus’s second term in office ends in 2013. Her Social Democrat counterpart in the debate agreed that combining the elections would be simpler for Czech voters. The centre-right government, led by Petr Nečas, pledged earlier in the year to try and bring in direct presidential elections. Senate chairman Přemysl Sobotka has often been mentioned as a possible Civic Democrat candidate.
Speed skater Martina Sáblíková has gotten off to successful start in new season: she won her first start in the three kilometre in Berlin. She finished roughly 20 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor, German racer Bente Kraus. Fellow Czech racer Kateřina Erbanová was third. Overall, the Czech team coach Petr Novák expressed satisfaction regarding the team’s performance.
The Czech pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai was seen by 90,032 people on Saturday – a new daily record. By October 31, it is expected that more than 8.5 million will have seen the Czech site. According to sources, the world exhibit in China is the most successful world expo ever, now seen by more than 70 million, beating previous record-holder Osaka, Japan.
In related news, several names have been floated over who may succeed the Civic Democrats’ Přemysl Sobotka as chairman of the Senate. In a TV debate programme on Sunday, newly-elected Social Democrat senator and outgoing MP Zdeněk Škromach said he would be willing to serve as Senate leader if asked. Senate deputy leader Milan Štěch, meanwhile, has openly expressed an interest. Another name being floated is that of Alena Gajdušková, the head of the Social Democrats’ senators club. Civic Democrat Přemysl Sobotka has held the post of Senate chairman since 2004.
Numerous castles and chateaux around the country are preparing for the final week of the tourist season, holding special programmes on the occasion of Czechoslovak Independence Day on October 28 and next weekend. The majority of state-owned castles and grounds open only on weekends in November and close from December until April. Castles planning for special events at the close of the season include Točník, Velhartice and numerous additional sites. Žleby, for example, will host a theatrical programme, including historical sword fighting, for visiting audiences.
Around 120 police officers on Sunday, along with sniffer dogs, resumed their search for missing nine-year-old Anna Janatková who disappeared in the area of Prague Troja on October 13. The little girl was last seen on her way home from school. Teams, including members of the military police, fire brigade and emergency rescue crews are shifting to locations closer to the Prague Zoo, a police spokeswoman confirmed. On Sunday, she described the difficulty of searching in the local terrain which includes cliff formations and sudden inclines. The police are accepting help from volunteers informed of the risks.
Political analysts have suggested that Saturday’s triumph by the
opposition Social Democrats – in which the party gained a majority in
upper house – could indirectly impact austerity measures and reforms put
forward by the government. With 41 out of 81 seats, the Social Democrats
are now in a position to delay legislation as well as influence foreign
policy, such as the planned increase of troops in Afghanistan, some
analysts have said.
Shortly after the results were finalized on Saturday, Prime Minister Petr Nečas, the head of the Civic Democratic Party, stressed that his centre-right government would consult key reforms with the Leftist party but stressed that the overall responsibility for measures lay with the coalition, which won a broad mandate from voters in the general election in May.
In hockey on Saturday, Czech forward Tomáš Fleishmann scored the winning goal in overtime for the NHL’s Washington Capitals, who defeated Atlanta by a score of 4:3. Another Czech – Washington goalie Michal Neuwirth – was also instrumental in the win, turning away 29 shots. The Capitals had lost their last two games.
A blaze at a cottage in the Břeclav area claimed one life on Saturday night, most likely that of the building’s 35-year-old male owner. Fire fighters were notified about the incident shortly after 1 am but had trouble proceeding due to difficult terrain. When they arrived at the scene, the entire building was already in flames. It took until the around 3 am to get the fire under control and until morning to put it out. Investigators have not yet determined the exact cause, although the blaze was made worse – and spread faster – due to a leak from a 10 kilogram propane-butane canister. Investigators are trying to get a positive ID on the person whose remains were found.
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