- After the counting of three-quarters of votes in regional elections, the Social Democrats are ahead in 10 of the 13 regions being contested.
- The Czech prime minister has said the regional elections were a marked success for left-wing parties and a defeat for the right.
- The great Czech animator Břetislav Pojar has died at the age of 89.
- Franciscan monks killed by a mob in the 17th century have been beatified in Prague.
- Tomáš Berdych has lost in the semi-finals of tennis’s Shanghai Masters.
Social Democrats ahead in regional elections but set to lose power in three regions
After the counting of three-quarters of votes in regional elections in the Czech Republic, the opposition Social Democrats are ahead in 10 of the 13 regions being contested. The Civic Democrats, who head the right-of-centre Czech government, are so far topping the polls in one region, as are the Mayors for Liberec Region group and the Communist Party. Prior to the weekend’s elections, the Social Democrats held power in all 13 regions. Prague is the only region where voting has not taken place. Voter turnout reached 35.6 percent.
In terms of national breakdown per party with three-quarters of votes counted, the Social Democrats had received 24.2, the Communists 20.9 percent, the Civic Democrats 11.9 percent, the Christian Democrats 9.8 percent and TOP 09 6.3 percent.
Elections have also been held for one third of the seats in the Czech Senate. The Social Democrats are hoping to make up ground in the upper chamber, where they would enjoy an absolute majority if they capture three more seats. Constituencies in which no candidate receives more than 50 percent will see run-off votes between the two leading candidates next weekend.
PM Nečas: failure of right due to government reforms
The Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, has said the regional elections were a marked success for the Czech Republic’s left-wing parties and a defeat for the right. He told reporters that the results had resulted from necessary government reforms, which have included a raft of austerity measures. Mr. Nečas conceded that the poor showing of his Civic Democrats could also reflect internal divisions within the party.
Czech animator Břetislav Pojar dies at 89
The great Czech animator Břetislav Pojar died on Friday at the age of 89. In a career stretching back to the late 1940s, Mr. Pojar wrote and directed many short films in the puppet animation and stop motion animation styles. He emigrated to Canada in the 1960s, where his work for the Canadian Film Board won numerous awards. Those prizes included a Best Short Film Award at Cannes in 1972 for Balablok, which satirised armed conflict.
Monks murdered by 17th century mob beatified in Prague
A group of Franciscan monks who were killed by a Prague mob in the 17th century were beatified in a ceremony at the city’s St. Vitus’ Cathedral on Saturday. The beatification – the first to take place in the Prague archdioceses, according to a representative of the Roman Catholic Church – accompanied a mass celebrated by the Vatican-based Cardinal Angelo Amato. Fourteen Franciscans were put to death at a Prague monastery in 1611 after the city’s inhabitants suspected them of collaborating with an invading army. The head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Dominik Duka, said the killings had arisen as the result of a moral crisis in Europe and could therefore serve as a warning today.
Man dies after setting himself on fire at court
A man who set himself on fire on Friday on the steps of the court in the central Bohemian town of Litoměřice has died. The man, who was 57, was transported by helicopter to the burns unit at a hospital in Prague’s Vinohrady district but succumbed to his injuries in the early hours of Saturday, a hospital spokesperson said. A police investigation is underway but no motive for the self-immolation is yet known.
Berdych loses to Djokovic in Shanghai semi-final
Tomáš Berdych has been beaten by Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of tennis’s Shanghai Masters. The Czech men’s number one lost 3–6 4–6 to the Serb, who has defeated Berdych in 10 of their 11 meetings to date. However, reaching the semi-finals in Shanghai for the first time could help the Czech – who is ranked seventh in the world – earn a berth at the year-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Bílek backs Peckhart to score more after debut strike in 14th appearance
The manager of the Czech national soccer team, Michal Bílek, says he hopes forward Tomáš Peckhart will continue to impress are finally getting his first goal in a 3:1 win over Malta in a World Cup qualifier on Friday night. It was the 14th international appearance by the tall Nuremberg striker, who is 23. Bílek told reporters he believed Peckhart would now hit the net more often, adding that a weight had clearly fallen from the player’s shoulders after his debut strike. Theodor Gebre Selassie and Jan Rezek also scored in Friday’s game, which left the Czechs third in Group B behind Italy and Bulgaria, who they face in Prague on Tuesday.
There should be a good deal of sunshine in the Czech Republic in the coming days, but some places will see rain. Temperatures are expected to reach a maximum of 15 or 16 degrees Celsius.