The man most Czechs would like to see as their next prime minister is head of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolánek, suggests a poll conducted by the Median Agency and published on Monday. Nearly 20 percent of respondents said that they wanted Mirek Topolánek to return to the post of prime minister, which he handed over to Jan Fischer in May after the toppling of his cabinet. Leader of the Social Democrats Jiří Paroubek came second in Monday’s poll. Almost two-fifths of respondents said they had no opinion on the issue. Head of the Communist Party, Vojtěch Filip, gained 7.1 percent of respondents’ support, while fourth was the head of new party TOP 09, the former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs announced on Monday that unemployment in the Czech Republic was up last month by just under half a percentage point to 8.4 percent. In July 2008, unemployment in this country totaled 5.3 percent. The number of unemployed in the Czech Republic rose last month by over 22,500 to 475,560 people. The areas with the highest unemployment rates were Most in North Bohemia and Karviná in North Moravia, while Prague continued to register the lowest number of jobless in the country, with an unemployment rate of just over three percent.
The volume of assets Czechs have deposited in mutual funds grew by over 3.6 billion crowns (199 million USD) to total 216.6 billion crowns (12 billion USD) in the second quarter of 2009. The data was released on Monday by the Capital Market Association who said that last quarter’s figures constituted the first rise in assets in over a year. Equity funds registered a growth of .39 billion crowns, while mixed funds and secured funds also saw an increase in investment. Money markets performed the worst, losing 1.4 billion crowns in the second quarter. Real estate and bond funds also reported a fall in assets. The Capital Market Association said that a ‘major part of the increase’ came from growth in the market and the appreciation of assets already in funds.
Members of a regional branch of the Christian Democrats are being asked to pay up to 200,000 crowns (around 11,000 USD) if they want to be included in the party’s list of candidates for early elections this autumn. On Monday, the newspaper Hospodářské noviny reported that the party was in dire need of money and hoped to plug some of its 25 million-crown shortage by charging its members standing for election. The proposal only affects members of the Christian Democrats belonging to the Zlin branch of the party. The suggestion is that all members of the regional branch’s leadership pay 50,000 crowns for the privilege, while those high up the party’s list of candidates, and therefore with the highest chance of being elected, pay up to 200,000 crowns into party coffers.
Cases of animal maltreatment in the Czech Republic should be more severely punished, the Supreme State Attorney’s Office recommends in a new report this Monday. The Czech Republic’s new penal code, which will come into effect in January next year, redefines what constitutes animal cruelty. As of January 2010, those who neglect animals can also be charged with maltreatment, up until now, it has only been those who actively inflict cruelty upon animals who have been liable to such charges. The new report suggests that those who know of animal cruelty and do not report it should be subject to punishment as well. In the report, the Supreme State Attorney’s Office said that animal cruelty must not be ‘ignored, let alone tolerated’.
Seventy-five people died on Czech roads in July, the Czech police said on Monday. In July last year in comparison, 101 people died on the country’s roads. There is speculation that the fall in deaths year-on-year could have in part been thanks to a major shock campaign launched by the Transport Ministry last September. Similarly, the police’s summer road campaign, aimed at motorcyclists in particular, is thought to be bearing fruit. Last year some 41 motorcyclists died in accidents during the summer holidays.
Meanwhile, Novinky.cz reported on Monday that the bookies’ favourites for October’s early elections are Jiří Paroubek’s Social Democrats. Tipsport bookmakers are offering odds of 1.75:1 on a Social Democrat victory, with the Civic Democrats trailing slightly behind, with odds of 1.90:1. According to Tipsport’s Lubomír Ježek, a recent scandal surrounding former Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek’s holiday in Italy has lowered the odds of a Civic Democrat victory.
A former political prisoner has said his communist jailers used physical violence and drugs to get the admissions they wanted. Jan Janku, 88, who was jailed in the hardline 1950s, told the daily Mladá fronta Dnes that the investigator on his case beat him senseless, knocking out some of his teeth in the process, and when he failed to force from his the admission he wanted he gave him cherries injected with a drug that resulted in hallucinations, insomnia and headaches. Although historians suspected former communist prisoners were being given drugs, none of them ever publicly confirmed this to date.
The adoption of up to 30 bills that should bring Czech legislation in line with EU directives will be delayed due to the early general elections scheduled for October 9-10, the CTK news agency reports. All bills that the current parliament will fail to pass by then, will fall through and will have to be submitted again to the new government and the new Chamber of Deputies. As a result, the adoption of these bills could be delayed by up to half a year. One of the bills the Czech Republic is to pass on the basis of an EU agreement, is the proposed reduction of VAT from 19 to 9 percent for certain services such as hairdressers, shoe repairers and restaurants. The lower house has approved the bill in the first reading, with two more still to come.
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