The outgoing Social Democrat government will resign on Wednesday, clearing the way for a new administration. Deputy-prime minister Zdenek Skromach made the announcement after the lower chamber elected a new leadership on Monday, ending ten weeks of deadlock. Once the cabinet of Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has resigned, President Vaclav Klaus is expected to appoint the head of the winning party Civic Democrat Mirek Topolanek prime minister designate, giving him a shot at winning support for a minority Civic Democrat government.
The outgoing prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, has said he expects the Czech Republic to actively participate in the UN mission in Lebanon. Speaking to journalists Mr. Paroubek said this had not been officially approved but that he was "counting on" Czech participation. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda was more cautious saying that given the country's participation in peace missions in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Czech Republic had come close to exceeding its capacity. UN resolution 1701 gives a mandate for an expanded UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) which is to be made up of some 15,000 international troops.
Pavel Nedved has announced that he is retiring from international football. He will make his final appearance for the Czech Republic on Wednesday in a friendly against Serbia. Nedved, who will be 34 in a fortnight, said he would be unprepared for internationals given that his club Juventus is now in the Italian second division, adding that he wanted to spend more time with his family. He is only the second Czech ever to be named European player of the year.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has indicated that his party may support a minority Civic Democrat government with a limited mandate of two years or just a few months until the state budget for 2007 has been passed. Speaking to journalists, Mr. Paroubek made it clear that he was not entirely happy with the way talks were going and hinted that his party's support for a minority Civic Democrat government was far from certain. The Social Democrat leader has made it clear that he expects to approve the entire government line-up, not just the unaffiliated experts in the minority cabinet. After rejecting the suggestion outright on Monday, Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek, backed down and agreed to discuss the names of all ministerial candidates. He is still pushing for a full four-year term in office.
A new police squad has been established to fight forced labour and exploitation of workers in the Czech Republic. This concerns mainly foreigners from Ukraine, Moldavia and Russia who are forced into prostitution or exploited in menial jobs. The unit's head Jan Mikes said that the Czech Republic had little experience in this field for the present time and was gathering know-how from abroad, particularly from the Netherlands. According to the daily Lidove Noviny up to 20,000 foreigners work in the Czech Republic illegally and an estimated 80 percent of those are subjected to forced labour or exploited.
The Finance Ministry has proposed a state budget deficit of 88 billion
crowns, the equivalent of around 4 billion US dollars, for next year.
The Finance Ministry - counting on revenues of almost 880 billion
crowns - has said it expects 5 percent economic growth and inflation at
2.8 percent in 2007. Unemployment is expected at about 7.4 percent. In
order to meet the proposed figures the ministry has said that a number
of projects will need to be put on hold, among them an amendment to the
law on health insurance. Raising sales tax on tobacco products to meet
EU norms will also be a necessity.
In the next year, the deficit should be no greater than 3.8 percent of the GDP to keep the country within the parameters set in the euro convergence programme. The Czech Republic is aiming to adopt the European Union's currency in 2010.
Social Democrat MP Miloslav Vlcek has been elected speaker of the lower house by a majority of MPs present. On Monday, he received 174 out of a possible 197 votes. Earlier, Mr Vlcek pledged publicly that his holding of the post will only be temporary, part of an agreement designed to break more than two months of deadlock on the Czech political scene. The centre-right parties agreed to support his candidacy on the condition that he would resign rather than take advantage of any opportunity to select the country's next prime minister. Mr Vlcek's election should now open the door for the outgoing cabinet to resign. That will allow the president to name a new prime minister, in all likelihood Civic Democrat Mirek Topolanek, who has been negotiating support for a minority Civic Democrat government. Mr Topolanek expressed hope on Monday that he might be named on two days' time, after the outgoing government tenders its resignation.
The Czech national football side is preparing for its friendly match against Serbia, the teams' only preparation game before the qualification rounds for the European Championship begin in September. Players have met in Prague ahead of the game, which takes place on Wednesday. The team will be without a number of injured players and it will be its first game without midfielder Karel Poborsky, who retired following the World Cup. One of the players expected to take to the pitch is star midfielder Pavel Nedved, but there are rumours the game may be his final international cap. Nedved, who plays for Juventus Turin, has scheduled a press conference on Tuesday to announce whether he will stay on with the national side after this week or make Wednesday his final appearance.
Five deputies have been elected to the post of deputy chairpersons in
the first round and second rounds of a secret ballot. Those elected in
the first ballot were: Social Democrat Lubomir Zaoralek, Lucie
Talmanova of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, Christian Democrat
Jan Kasal, and the Communist Party's Vojtech Filip.
Only one, nominee Miroslava Nemcova, failed to gain enough votes in the first ballot, but was elected in the second.
A new political party founded by European Parliament MP Jana Bobosikova has announced the names of twelve candidates running in the Czech Senate elections in the autumn, among them notable figures such as Pavla Topolankova - the wife of Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek. Others listed include pop singer Martin Maxa, and former news anchorwoman Mirka Cejkova. Party founder Jana Bobosikova has called her party "Politika 21" in order to "represent politics for the 21st century". In the fall, one third (that is, twenty-seven) of the seats in the Senate will be the focus of the elections.