The Communist Party has said, however, that it will still support Mr Klaus’s rival Jan Švejnar in this Friday’s elections on three conditions. Firstly, it wants the parties currently backing Mr Švejnar – the Social Democrats and the Greens – to oppose the building of a U.S anti-missile radar base on Czech soil, which is currently being discussed. Secondly, the communists are demanding that the Social Democrats and the Greens enter into a ‘non-aggression pact’ with their party. They want more recognition from both of the parties, and warmer bilateral relations. Finally, the communists are demanding that presidential candidate Jan Švejnar himself treats the party with more respect. The Social Democrats have responded that they are willing to enter into negotiations with the communists, while the Green Party has said that it is not willing to change its stance.
The Czech koruna hit a new high point of 25.48 koruna to the euro early on Wednesday, fuelled by an easing of worries about the risk of holding Central European currencies. But analysts predict that the Czech currency is likely to drift lower in the next couple of weeks and there are mixed views on whether another interest rate rise can be expected after last week’s quarter point increase to 3.75 percent.
The European Commission has advised the Czech Republic to cut its number of public service employees. In a review of how the country was progressing towards adoption of the single European currency, the EC said that the Czech Republic still had work to do on cutting its public spending. It recommended saving money by lowering the number of public service employees and freezing their pay. The evaluation was, however, more positive than last year’s with the commission praising the country for slashing its public finance deficit. The Czech Republic originally wanted to adopt the euro as early as next year, but it is expected that the country will now adopt the single European currency in 2012 at the earliest.
The Czech Communist Party announced on Tuesday that it would field a candidate in Friday’s elections for a new head of state, a move considered likely to help outgoing President Václav Klaus win reelection. The candidate to have been put forward by the Communist Party is the European Parliament lawmaker Jana Bobošíková, who has agreed to stand, the party said. Mrs Bobošíková will now join Václav Klaus and Czech-American economist Jan Švejnar in a new round of voting for the country’s next president scheduled for this Friday. The communists’ candidate admits to holding rightwing views - she was once an advisor to Mr. Klaus, himself the founder of the rightwing Civic Democratic Party. Analysts say that Mrs Bobošíková’s candidacy will actually boost Mr Klaus’s chances of reelection, as it splits the vote of the leftwing parties in the Czech Parliament and Senate.
Three Czech men were sentenced on Wednesday for attempting to sell a child to a British couple. The child involved was the nine-month-old daughter of one of the convicted. The three men were caught in a sting, when the couple they tried to sell the child to turned out to be a pair of British investigative journalists, reporting on the sales of children abroad. Petr Zemianek who organized the deal was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Dušan Čonka, whose task was to find a fake birth certificate for the child, was handed a three and a half year suspended sentence. Vladimir Ščasný, who lent Mr Čonka a birth certificate and photos of his daughter Karolína, was dealt a two year suspended sentence.
The government has approved a new amendment to the Criminal Code, which is supposed to protect the privacy of victims of crime. Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil said that under the new law it wouldn’t be possible to publish names and photos of juvenile victims without their parents’ approval. The ban on publishing private information will include adult victims of crime as well.
Five senators and deputies who voted for incumbent President Václav Klaus in last week’s presidential election received bullets in the post on Tuesday. The bullets were uncovered in two envelopes during a routine X-ray check of the post. An unknown perpetrator is also said to have threatened Mrs Juřenčáková by sending her a vulgar SMS on Friday night before the third round of the presidential election.
The number of Czechs over 65 is expected to increase by one million by
2050, according to the calculations of the Czech Statistical Office. There
are currently about 1.5 million people over 65 living in the Czech
Republic, which has a population of 10 million. Their share is expected to
make up almost one quarter of the population by 2030 and one third by 2050.
The Czech cabinet on Monday approved a pension reform bill that would gradually increase the retirement age to 65 years. At present males usually retire at the age of 61, childless females at the age of 60 and mothers earlier, according to the number of children. The reform bill also wants to extend the obligatory social insurance period to 35 years. Under the new bill, mothers of two or more children would still have a chance to retire earlier.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said he was unwilling to accept the Communists’ terms of support for Jan Švejnar in Friday’s presidential election. The Communists said on Monday they were ready to vote for Jan Švejnar if the Social Democrats and the Greens promised not to support the US missile defence system in the Czech Republic. Mr Schwarzenberg said that if the Social Democrats and the Greens acceded to this condition, Mr Švejnar’s candidature would immediately lose sense.
All 41 senators of the ruling Civic Democratic Party have nominated Václav Klaus, the incumbent President and the party’s honorary chairman, for the second presidential election, which is due to be held on Friday. His challenger Jan Švejnar has received 11 nominations by four groups of senators, including the opposition Social Democrats. Unlike Mr Švejnar, Václav Klaus will also be nominated by Civic Democrats in the lower house.
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