- The Civic Democrats, who won the largest share of the vote in this past weekend's general elections, have taken the first steps in trying to form a new government.
- Forty-five Czech soldiers have left for a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia Herzegovina.
- Czech tennis star Nicole Vaidisova has defeated Amelie Mauresmo in a surprise upset at the French Open.
Civic Democrats decide on a coalition negotiation team
The right-of-centre Civic Democrats have decided that the chairman of the party, Mirek Topolanek, and his two deputies, Petr Necas and Pavel Bem, will head the negotiations about the formation of a new government. Mirek Topolanek has said that his aim is to form a coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Greens, and this in the quickest timeframe possible. However, this will not be easy, given that such a coalition would have exactly 100 seats in the 200-seat lower house.
On Monday morning President Vaclav Klaus formally entrusted the leader of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, with the task of forming a new government. The Civic Democrats won the largest share of the vote in the weekend's general elections, earning 81 seats.
The Social Democrats - the biggest party in the current government - won 74 seats, while the Communists have 26, the Christian Democrats 13 and the Greens 6 seats.
Freedom Union chairman Pavel Nemec resigns
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Pavel Nemec has resigned as chairman of the Freedom Union Party after its poor showing in the elections. The Freedom Union Party failed to cross the five percent threshold required to enter the lower house. Prior to the elections, the Freedom Union had ten MPs in the lower house, and three of its members held ministerial posts. However, the recent general elections saw the Freedom Union win a mere 0.3% of votes, despite a campaign strategy that supported the legalization of marihuana, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia. Freedom Union Deputy Chairman, Frantisek Pelc, and Minister of Defence, Karel Kuhnl, have also resigned their posts. Martin Stransky will take over temporary chairmanship of the Freedom Union Party.
Crown weakens in wake of election
In the wake of the country's general election the Czech crown weakened by 15 hellers after trading began on Monday morning to 28.33 crowns to the Euro. The currency also weakened slightly against the dollar, to 21.87 crowns to the dollar. Analysts had predicted the development.
Elections could impact the flow of EU structural funds
According to the President of the Czech Association for Industry and Trade, Jaroslav Mil, the unclear outcome of the elections could have an impact on the flow of money from European Union Structural Funds. While the orientation of the new Czech government will not affect the flow of EU funds, the government will have to approve operational programs for structural funds projects in time to present them to the European Commission in September. The EU is due to release 100 billion crowns per year in structural funds to the Czech Republic in its next fiscal term which runs between 2007 and 2013.
Czech soldiers leave for peacekeeping mission in Bosnia Herzegovina
Forty-five Czech soldiers—two of them women--from the 72nd mechanical battalion have left for a six-month mission in Bosnia Herzegovina. They will provide security services as part of the European Union's peacekeeping operations in the region. This is the first time that soldiers from the 72nd mechanical battalion are serving as part of an international mission. Another twenty soldiers are due to join the group in mid-June. Twenty-two European countries participate in EUFOR missions, and the Czech Republic joined this international team in July 2004.
Czech Airlines saw a loss of 496 million crowns in 2005
The Czech national airline carrier, CSA, has announced a loss of 496 million crowns ($22.6 million USD) for 2005. This loss comes after a successful year in 2004, when the company registered a profit of 324 million crowns ($14.7 million USD). CSA says that shift comes as a result of record-high fuel prices and intense airline market competition. CSA President, Radomir Lasak, says that he is not expecting 2006 to be a profitable year either.
President Klaus signs new law on hefty fines for illegal waste dumping
President Vaclav Klaus has approved a new law that allows those caught dumping illegal waste in the Czech Republic to be fined up to 50 million crowns. Until now, the penalty was set at a maximum of 10 million crowns. In recent months, thousands of tonnes of illegal waste originating from Germany found its way across the border into the Czech Republic. The problem of illegal waste dumping also became part of the Czech election campaign, with members of the German Green Party supporting their Czech colleagues in efforts to draw attention to these environmental hazards.
Wealthy Czech businessman sentenced to 5 years for tax fraud
One of the Czech Republic's most wealthy businessmen, Tomas Pitr, will serve five years in jail for financial crimes he committed twelve years ago. A Prague high court rendered the appeal verdict on Monday, reducing Pitr's original sentence by three and a half years. Pitr was found guilty of tax fraud that cost the state about 23.5 million crowns ($1.07 million USD).
Nicole Vaidisova defeats Amelie Mauresmo at Roland Garros
Seventeen year old Czech tennis star Nicole Vaidisova has defeated world number-one ranked Amelie Mauresmo, and earned a place in the quarterfinals at the French Open. Vaidisova won her match against the French favourite in just over two hours of play, 6:7 (5:7), 6:1, 6:2. It is the first time that Nicole Vaidisova has reached the quarterfinals in a grand slam tournament. Vaidisova will now face American Venus Williams at Roland Garros on Tuesday.
Partly cloudy skies and chilly temperatures are expected for the next few days. Daytime temperatures will range from 12 to 16 degrees Celsius, with occasional rain showers in most parts of the country.