Sixty-two year-old Karol Siddon has been dismissed as Prague's head rabbi by Prague's Jewish Municipal Council, following increased dissatisfaction over Mr Sidon's role in his post. Regarding the dismissal Municipal Council chairman Tomas Jelinek reportedly praised Mr Sidon's work in the 1990's, but criticised the rabbi for not meeting the demands of his office of late, including responsibilities pertaining to property administration. Mr Sidon told CT, the Czech News Agency, on Tuesday it was possible the Federation of Jewish Communities would strip him of the title of the country's chief rabbi, as well.
Government junior-member the Freedom Union appears set to lose its deputy group by the end of the week: party head Pavel Nemec told journalists on Tuesday that MP Marian Bielesz, had announced he was planning to quit. No final decision, however, has been taken as yet. Another MP, Tomas Vrbik appears set to do the same if the Freedom Union decides to remain in a coalition with its current government partners. Till now the Freedom Union's deputies' group had boasted just ten members: the minimum number of members needed in order for the group to exist.
The Czech Republic have asked the UEFA football association to look into an incident which resulted in the Czech national football side's captain Pavel Nedved receiving a yellow card against Denmark at last Sunday's quarter-final at Euro 2004. Petr Fousek, the general secretary of the Czech Football Association, said on Tuesday the move was not a formal appeal, which is not allowed under the European body's disciplinary procedure, but indicated the matter needed looking in to. UEFA, however, responded earlier than expected, saying Nedved's yellow card would stand.
The leaders of the three parties in the coalition government, which is set
to step down on Wednesday, have met to discuss further options regarding
the current government crisis. Stanislav Gross, the acting head of the
Social Democratic party, Pavel Nemec of the Freedom Union, and Miroslav
Kalousek of the Christian Democrats, all expressed a willingness on
Tuesday for further cooperation, though all conceded they would now have
to wait for a decision by Czech President Vaclav Klaus. If he follows
constitutional procedure, the president is expected to ask the leader of
the largest faction in Parliament, Stanislav Gross, whose Social Democrats
have 70 seats, to try and form a new government.
Besides discussing options on Tuesday all three party leaders rejected future cooperation with the Communist Party and praised out-going Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla.
The Czech coalition government is serving its last hours in office, pending Wednesday's resignation of the entire Cabinet. The government fell on Saturday when Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla announced he was stepping down as head of government after he narrowly survived being ousted as party leader. Mr. Spidla, who served as Prime Minister for two years, found himself under increasing pressure after his party's poor showing in the recent elections to the European Parliament.
The Czech crown, which dropped on news of the government's fall, has now fully recovered. The crown shed 30 hellers to the US dollar and 20 to the Euro, but made a surprisingly quick recovery climbing back to its former level within two hours. Raifeissenbank analyst Ivo Nejdl said the crown would probably spend some time on the weaker side of 32 crowns to the Euro, waiting for further moves on the Czech political scene. If the communists are invited to take part in the government in any way, there would be another drop, he said.
President Vaclav Klaus has said he plans to hold talks with the leaders of three parliamentary parties before deciding whom to commission with forming a new Czech government. They are the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the opposition Civic Democrats. The talks are to begin on Thursday following the resignation of the present Cabinet. The standard procedure would be for the President to give this task to the head of the strongest party in parliament, currently acting chairman of the Social Democrats Stanislav Gross, but the Constitution allows him to make a different choice should he find it to be politically justified. Mr. Gross has indicated that he is ready for the task and is confident that he could form a viable cabinet which could remain in office until the next general elections, which are due in 2006. Meanwhile, the opposition Civic Democrats, who won the elections to the European Parliament, are pushing for early elections on home ground as well, possibly in the middle of next year.
For his part, the leader of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, has said he is afraid Mr Gross will be less likely to distance himself from the Communists than Vladimir Spidla, who always refused to co-operate with them. Mr Topolanek called on Sunday for the formation of a caretaker government which would rule until the holding of early elections in the middle of next year. The Civic Democrats have been leading in polls of voter support for some time.
Meanwhile, the Freedom Union have elected Pavel Nemec leader, after Petr Mares stepped down in the wake of very poor results for the party in recent elections to the European Parliament. Mr Nemec has been minister for local development in the outgoing coalition. He said on Sunday the Freedom Union were willing to discuss the establishment of a new government with all parties except the Communists.
The acting chairman of the Social Democrats, Stanislav Gross, is understood to favour forming a minority government with the Christian Democrats. The two parties were in a coalition with the Freedom Union under Mr Spidla. Mr Gross said he believed it was possible to form a government which would remain in office until the next general elections, which are due in 2006. He added that he was keen to avoid relying on the Communist Party, who have said they would support a minority government under certain conditions.
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