Police have arrested several far-right extremists and carried out searches of their homes and cars. A spokesperson for the Brno regional authority told the website novinky.cz that the police had been acting under orders from a state attorney’s office in the Brno district. A lawyer who represents far-right activists quoted one of her clients as saying the arrests had been made in connection with internet web sites, articles and rock concerts.
The caretaker Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, has given his endorsement to Jose Manuel Barroso’s bid to win a second term as president of the European Commission. The two met in Brussels on Tuesday ahead of a European Union summit in the city on June 18 and 19 that will be chaired by the Czech leader and make the appointment. Jan Fischer took over as Czech prime minister following the collapse of the Czech government half-way through the country’s presidency of the EU.
The leaders of all the parties in the Czech Parliament and both houses, all members of the government, Ombudsman Otakar Motejl and former president Václav Havel have signed a statement pledging to take a common stand against growing extremism and racism in the Czech Republic. The statement, which was presented by party leaders and Human Rights Minister Michael Kocáb, criticised the promotion of extremism, discrimination and racial, ethnic or social segregation.
Five MPs have quit the Christian Democrats, the fourth biggest grouping in
the Czech lower house. Mirolsav Kalousek, Jan Husák, Ladislav Šustr,
Vlasta Parkanová and Pavel Severa all said they were leaving the party on
Tuesday. There are now eight MPs left in the deputies group of the
Christian Democrats, which is headed by the party’s new leader Cyril
Mr Kalousek, who was finance minister in the last government, is planning to form a new centre-right party named TOP 09 to contest general elections in October. Meanwhile, the Czech News Agency reported that a number of Christian Democrat senators were also considering leaving the party.
Twenty-seven Czech soldiers who had been serving at an airport in Kabul since December returned to the Czech Republic on Tuesday. The troops who have replaced them can look forward to tough times as elections will take place in Afghanistan during their tour, their commander Lieutenant Colonel Jiří Pluhař told reporters. The elections will lead to increased risks and a worsening of the overall security situation, he said. Some 480 Czech soldiers are currently serving with the ISAF peace mission in Afghanistan, while 100 more are taking part in anti-terrorism operations as part of the US-led operation Enduring Freedom.
President Václav Klaus said on Monday that Czechs clearly failed to appreciate the importance of voting in the European elections. Referring to the 28 percent turnout, Mr. Klaus said he was saddened but not surprised by people’s overwhelming lack of interest in European institutions and their failure to recognize the fact that their vote could help decide the future shape of Europe. Despite earlier having described the elections as a waste of time, the eurosceptic Czech president turned out to cast his ballot on Saturday, saying that he was motivated by the hope that this time the vote would result in a European Parliament that was more sensible and more significant than it had proved in the past. He said the failure of Czech eurosceptic parties such as libertas.cz or the newly established Free Citizens’ Party was due to poor PR and an inability to get their message across to the public.
The right-of-centre Civic Democrats topped the polls in Czech voting to
the European Parliament. The party of former prime minister, Mirek
Topolánek, gained 31.4 percent of the votes, well ahead of the left-wing
Social Democrats who came second with 22.4 percent. The Communists took
third place with 14.2 percent of the vote and the Christian Democrats came
fourth with 7.6 percent. The results mean the Civic Democrats will hold
onto nine out of the country’s 22 seats. The Social Democrats improve on
their disastrous showing in 2004 with seven seats. The Communists have
fallen back to four and the Christian Democrats have held onto their two
seats. None of the smaller parties made it past the 5.0 percent threshold.
Turnout was 28.0 percent, around the same level as 2004. The final election
results are expected on Wednesday.
The European poll is seen as an important indicator of party strengths ahead of early general elections in October. Mr Topolánek described the result as a comeback after his party’s previous battering in regional and Senate elections. Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek said there would be a different turnout in the autumn elections since it would be fought on different issues.
The Czech Republic’s trade balance improved in April compared with a year earlier according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Monday. April’s trade surplus came in at 12.0 billion crowns. That is more than double the 5.6 billion in April 2008. The surplus came against a background of the biggest fall in imports since the creation of the Czech Republic and the second biggest slump in exports. Compared with 2008, exports fell by 22.8 percent and imports by 26.0 percent.
The government of Prime Minister Jan Fischer, which won a confidence vote in the lower house on Sunday, on Monday approved a bill on the Czech army’s foreign missions in 2010. The proposal envisages maintaining 550 Czech soldiers in the KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo and 530 in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. The bill is expected to raise controversy in the lower house where left-wing deputies would like to see the number of troops serving in foreign missions significantly reduced. The Defence Ministry has already had to effect significant cuts after the lower house rejected the first draft proposal on the army’s foreign missions last December. The chamber of deputies is expected to vote on the bill in June.
The head of the Green Party Martin Bursík said he would offer his resignation to party leaders at a meeting on Monday after the Greens’ dismal European Parliament poll showing. The Green Party received 2.1 percent of the votes in the elections and no seats. It was battling against two other parties claiming ‘green’ credentials. Mr Bursík said his party paid the price of internal splits but also blamed the low public interest in the European Parliament.
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