Leaders of three Czech right-of-center parties have commented on the
results of the general elections that took place in Slovakia on Saturday.
Petr Nečas, the current acting leader of the Civic Democrats, said that he
found the Slovak results were similar to the outcome of the recent lower
house elections in the Czech Republic. He added that voters no longer put
faith in promises of left-of-center parties. The head of TOP 09 and former
foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg said he saw a positive development in
both countries while Public Affairs leader Radek John judged that Slovak
voters had decided in favor of fiscal responsibility.
While the left-wing SMER party of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico won the most votes, it lacks a clear majority and possible coalition partners. A center-right coalition of four parties led by the conservative SDKU claimed 79 out of the 150 seats up for grabs in parliament and could well form a government coalition.
On Saturday evening, a woman gave birth to a healthy baby-daughter in her car near the Moravian town of Břeclav before an ambulance could arrive. A passerby helped the woman, who started giving birth earlier than expected. The woman’s 11-year-old son called an ambulance, which brought her and the baby to a hospital in the city of Brno. The region’s emergency medical services saw a record number of 250 cases on Saturday, due to a heat wave followed by heavy thunderstorms.
The former general director of the Siemens group’s Czech branch, Pavel Kafka, worked as an agent for the communist secret police (StB) in the past. In its Saturday edition, the Czech daily Lidové noviný reported that Mr Kafka, who is currently a member of the country’s Research and Development council, was given the task of spying on students and journalists. Mr Kafka joined the Communist Party when he was 18 years old. After working for the Foreign Ministry in the Czech Republic, he was sent to work as a press attaché at Czech embassies in Japan and Greece. After the Velvet Revolution, Mr Kafka started working for the German engineering conglomerate Siemens. He was appointed to the Czech Research and Development council by Prime Minister Jan Fischer last year.
A committee of experts from all three parties in the process of forming a
government coalition has suggested that budget cuts of ten percent in
welfare and social allowances be implemented. The committee will now hand
over its recommendation to the negotiating teams of the possible
coalition’s parties, the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs.
Political analysts believe that such cuts may well become a part of the
future government’s coalition program.
The three parties are yet to reach agreement on the last remaining issue of coalition negotiations, tax increases. While the Civic Democrats oppose implementing higher taxes, Public Affairs would like to raise income tax for the country’s highest earners.
The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has again issued a storm warning for large parts of the country. After record temperatures of up to 33 degrees and humid conditions on Saturday, strong thunderstorms may occur in Moravia and south-eastern Bohemia. Strong precipitation may cause river levels to rise, flooding of cellars and garages may occur in some parts of the country. In some locations, wind speeds could reach up to 90 km/h. Meteorologists expect that following this week’s heat wave, temperatures will drop to around 20 degrees Celsius on Sunday.
On Saturday, the citizens’ group Stolpersteine is to lay 32 new stones commemorating victims of the Holocaust throughout Prague. The stones, which measure ten by ten centimeters and are implemented into the pavement, display information about victims of the Nazi genocide who lived in Prague. As part of the project, such stones are placed in front of the victims’ last place of residence before their deportation. Since the European initiative was brought to the Czech Republic three years ago, eighty such stones were installed throughout the country.
The Senate has once again added the Masin brothers, who escaped to the
West from Czechoslovakia in 1953, to its list of personalities to be taken
into consideration by Czech president Václav Klaus for the country’s
highest honor, the Order of the White Lion. Among this year’s 21
candidates for the honor are television director František Filip and
War II pilot Josef Bernat. The Masin brothers have been nominated for the
Order of the White Lion five times but have never actually received it.
Critics of the group around the Masin brothers, one of the few to resist the Communists, committing acts of sabotage, consider the two brothers murderers. In the course of their dramatic escape, they shot a policeman. The group also killed a wages clerk and two StB secret police officers during earlier robberies of arms stores.
The most likely next prime minister, Petr Nečas, has announced his six picks for senior offices in the Civic Democrats party. The announcement comes days before the Civic Democrats’ party congress, to be held on June 19 and 20, when a new party leadership will be elected. Among the candidates for offices such as deputy party leader are former foreign minister Alexandr Vondra and former deputy chairwoman of the lower house, Miroslava Němcová. Mr Nečas himself is applying for the position of party leader. He said that the Civic Democrats were aware of the signal for change that voters had given his party at the recent lower house elections and that this would also translate into personnel changes.
A Czech woman has been able to find her son, who she had not heard from in 22 years, through the social networking site facebook, the news server novinky.cz reported on Friday. The woman’s son, who lives in Canada, did not believe she was his mother when she first contacted him. He said his father had told him that she died in a car accident. The young man had left the Czech Republic for Canada as a child with the woman’s former husband, a professional soldier. The woman claims that after the couple divorced, her son’s father had threatened to kill her if she did not give him custody of their child.
On Saturday, the majority of Prague’s museums will stay open past midnight as part of the city’s annual museum night, now in its sixth year. Most of the 53 participating institutions will be open to visitors from 7 p.m. free of charge. Special concerts, theater performances and lectures will be part of the program. The capital’s transport authority has extended its metro services until 1:30 am to accommodate visitors of museum night; special busses will also be in effect. Last year, some 180,000 visitors attended the event.
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