The three centre and centre-right parties in the lower house signed a
declaration Wednesday over their intent to form a coalition government. The
announcement followed the first three- way meeting between them. Up till
now there have only been two-way talks between the Civic Democrats, TOP 09
and Public Affairs.
Civic Democrat leader Petr Nečas said it could take a month, at a maximum two, for a final coalition deal to be sealed. Seven separate negotiating teams have been formed to try and thrash out a common line on various policies. Mr. Nečas has been summoned to report to President Václav Klaus on Thursday, fuelling speculation that he might then be tasked to form a government.
The latest steps follow the first appearance of cracks in the coalition project on Tuesday when the leader of the Public Affairs party, Radek John, warned that his party might not join a coalition with the Civic Democrats and TOP 09. He said it might only give it support in parliament if its specific demands were not met. The junior party in the possible coalition has highlighted its demands to combat corruption and tax and health reform as potential sticking points in a deal. John underlined that his party’s programme was much wider than just cutting the public debt.
Former manager of top flight football club Slavia Prague, Karel Jarolím, is to return to the club as manager. Jarolím, left the post only two months ago after a run of poor results but still has an ongoing contract with the club. Jarolím said that he had weighed up the comeback for several days and decided that it would not be fair not to accept the challenge of leading the club back to the top of Czech football and into European competitions. Slavia have just completed their worst ever season, ending seventh in the league and for the first time in 19 years they will not taking part in any European competition. Jarolím led the club to two league titles in the previous two seasons.
The European Commission has become involved in an ongoing dispute about patient fees in the Czech Republic. The Commission has given an informal an informal verdict that it considers the practice of some left-leaning regional authorities to repay patients’ fees as amounting to illegal public support, the Czech competition watchdog has announced. The deputy chairman of the competition office said it was not clear what further steps Brussels would take with regard to the matter. Fees for visits to the doctor and stays in hospital were introduced by the centre-right coalition government in 2006 but have been opposed by Social Democrat regional authorities with some refunding the charges.
The problematic talks are being closely followed by the winner of the elections and biggest party in the lower house, the Social Democrats. They are especially interested in whether Public Affairs will be a full member of a coalition or just give its backing in parliament. Public Affairs leader, Radek John, has ruled out coalition talks with the Social Democrats even though he admits on some issues, such as health reform, they have more in common than with right-wing parties. Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka is sticking by the party’s demand that it is offered a first shot at forming a government by President Václav Klaus. But the head of the president’s political office has indicated that he will might not invite anyone to form a government at this stage and just wait for the first workable government project to be placed
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych says reaching his first ever Grand Slam semi-final is incredible, but that his next match is now the most important thing. The 24-year-old made it to the last four at the French Open in Paris after thrashing Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny 6-3 6-1 6-2 in less than two hours on Tuesday evening. His opponent said that he was not given a chance to play. Berdych will now face Sweden’s Robin Soderling, who knocked out Roger Federer, for a place in the final. The Swede has won four of the pair’s previous seven matches, though Berdych beat Soderling when the two met earlier this year.
Public broadcaster Czech Television has called for Foreign Minister Jan Kohout to protest to Israeli authorities about the treatment of its four-strong camera crew. They were on one ship in a flotilla stormed by Israeli forces on Monday night. Three out of four are being detained in Israel. Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Filip Kanda said only two of the three had signed a document agreeing to their deportation. He added that they could leave the country in the coming hours. The first journalist to return to the Czech Republic was Czech Television cameraman Jan Línek. Deportation can mean a 10 year ban on returning to the country. Separately, Civic Democrat Senate head Přemysl Sobotka said on an official visit to Israel that he regarded the humanitarian convoy as a planned provocation.
Deputy leader of the TOP 09 party, Miroslav Kalousek, described the scenario of a minority right-wing coalition with parliamentary support from the Public Affairs party as unfortunate. He told Czech Radio that time was pressing for the parties to agree a deal and pointed to the end of September deadline for agreeing a budget for 2011. Both TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats would like to push through more ambitious cuts in the public deficit than initially outlined by the current caretaker government.
In tennis, the Czech Republic will take on Slovakia in the opening game of next year’s women’s team tennis competition, the FedCup. The top World Group tie will take place in Slovakia on February 5 and 6. The Czech Republic has a 3:0 lead in the previous confrontations between the teams. This year, the Czech Republic got to the semi-finals of the event before being beaten 0:5 by finalist, Italy.
The first five complaints about the conduct of the lower house elections on May 28 and 29 have been made by Czech citizens and not parties. The 10-day period for complaints to be lodged began on Wednesday. The Supreme Administrative Court said some complaints arrived ahead of Wednesday. During the last elections in 2006, 70 complaints were lodged but none were upheld. The court has 20 days after the closing date for complaints to give its verdict.
Heavy rain has sparked flood warnings and caused two deaths in Moravia. The worst situation on Wednesday morning was in the Zlín region where the highest, level three, flood danger warning applied at around half a dozen sites. The head of the regional authority there and in South Moravia have declared flood danger alerts for the whole area. At least three deaths have been linked to the latest floods. The body of a drowned person was found in Zlín and a 19 year old driver is believed to have died there after skidding in front of an oncoming lorry because of the conditions. Police also found the body of a drowned person in Brno. Earlier, the main problems were in north Moravia and Silesia. Around 70 children were evacuated from a school in Ostrava as a precautionary measure. Forecasters expect the rain to shift westwards during the day.
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