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10-06-2006 19:48 | Linda Maštalíř

Social Democratic parliamentarians vow no coalition support

All 74 newly-elected Social Democratic MPs have vowed not to support a government coalition made up of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Green Party if such a coalition is led by the Civic Democratic Chairman, Mirek Topolanek. This declaration has been signed by all the new Social Democratic MPs and is important because Mr. Topolanek needs to push the balance of support to 101 seats, rather than the proposed coalition's current mandate of 100 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

Social Democratic leader, Jiri Paroubek, is in favour of a caretaker government, though he admits that if he were entrusted with forming a government he would aim for a political government, and not the caretaker variety. Meanwhile, deputy chairman of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, has said that the Civic Democratic Party should rid itself of the illusion that it will secure the number of votes possible to govern.

A vote-of-confidence in the new government is expected to take place on June 27th.

Social Democrats want chairmanship of the lower house

The Social Democratic Party continues to take the position that one of its members should become the new chairman of the Chamber of Deputies. The Social Democrats came second in the recent elections, and say that they deserve to fill this important administrative post. The Social Democratic leadership says that it will not exchange this position for support of Mirek Topolanek's proposed Civic Democratic-led coalition government.

According to deputy party leader Zdenek Skromach, the Social Democractic leader, Jiri Paroubek, is considered a front-runner for the chairman's post by his own party. Czech law does not allow for the posts of prime minister and chairman of the lower house to be held simultaneously, which is something that Mr. Paroubek does not consider problematic. Until a new government is formed, Mr. Paroubek remains the Prime Minister.

Jiri Paroubek not likely to appeal elections

The Social Democratic Party will most likely not appeal the election results, as its leader Jiri Paroubek suggested last weekend after the votes were counted. In an unexpected speech on election night, the defeated Mr. Paroubek refused to acknowledge that the Civic Democrats won the elections, and he likened the results to an "assault on democracy not seen since February 1948," when the Communists took power. After meeting with President Klaus at Prague Castle on Thursday, Mr. Paroubek made a public apology for his emotionally-charged speech.

Now one week after the elections, Mr. Paroubek says that it is unlikely that his party will file an appeal with the Supreme Court. Eleven appeals have already been filed during the past week, and Mr. Paroubek is satisfied that the courts will be busy enough with this matter.

Czech - German border crossing sees increased traffic

With the World Cup underway in Germany, Czech - German border crossings are registering a marked increase in traffic volume. The Saturday edition of the daily Pravo reports that in addition to football fans travelling to Germany by car, the Czech border police are also encountering many suspected prostitutes who are crossing the border into Germany, many of them from poorer states in central Europe. Customs agents at the west Bohemian Rozvadov crossing are registering approximately 25 Bulgarian women per day, the majority of them thought to be prostitutes. Border guards have tightened control measures, conducting thorough searches for drugs and weapons. Czech customs agents are also checking to make sure that football fans from the United Kingdom who have been banned from match attendance are not attempting to enter Germany by car from the Czech Republic.

64th anniversary of Lidice massacre remembered

Hundreds of people, including politicians and foreign guests, took part in a ceremony Saturday to remember the Nazi massacre that levelled the central Bohemian village of Lidice 64 years ago. The ceremonies included the opening of an updated and expanded exhibit at the newly-reconstructed Lidice Memorial Museum. The original museum, opened in 1962, began to undergo extensive reconstruction last year.

In addition, former Czech Cultural Minister, Pavel Dostal, was awarded honorary citizenship by the town of Lidice, in memoriam. Mr. Dostal died in 2005 and during his time as cultural minister, he worked to revitalize the Lidice Memorial.

The village of Lidice was crushed by Nazi forces on 10 June 1942 in retaliation for the murder of the Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich. 340 villagers were murdered by the Nazis in Lidice.

Two men drown near Rozemberk

Tragedy struck two men on Friday evening as they tried to navigate strong currents on the Vltava River near Rozemberk, south Bohemia. Their canoe was overtaken by powerful currents, and the men—ages 30 and 39—fell into the water. Both men drowned. Fire fighters found the first body around 22:00 on Friday, and the second on Saturday morning. Rescue efforts were hampered both by the poor night-time visibility as well as the high water levels.

Weather

Sunny intervals and partly cloudy skies are expected for the remainder of the weekend, with highs reaching 22 degrees Celsius. Scattered rain showers are also likely in most parts of the country.

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