Police have asked the Chamber of Deputies to give up Public Affairs member Otto Chaloupka for investigation. Mr Chaloupka is suspected of having accepted money from the salary of a former assistant. According to the Chaloupka, he and a group of people had agreed to save money to finance Public Affairs’ election campaign. The assistant thus transferred 25,000 of his 35,000 monthly pay to the MP, who says he did not keep the money for himself. Otto Chaloupka is one of the parliamentarians who has been discussed as a possible supporter of Karolína Peake’s new political faction. He is currently in the United States but says he will remain with Public Affairs.
Independent MP Karolína Peake says she has enough supporters behind her new faction to save the centre-right government from collapse. Ms Peake caused a split in the junior coalition party Public Affairs when she quit last week. She has since been followed by eight other MPs, who intend to form an independent faction to support the government in lieu of Public Affairs. On Monday, Peake announced the support of Public Affairs’ Milan Šťovíček and said she believed that others would follow. The faction is still one member short of the ten required to create a parliamentary club. With the support of Peake’s faction the government would currently have a thin majority of 102 votes in Parliament, however other MPs, including remnants of Public Affairs, have said they would support the government's principle measures.
Interior Minister Jan Kubice has decided to close a corruption hotline he says is not effective enough. The 199 line on which people could call in suspicions of corruption was launched more than four years ago and has since cost nearly 12 million crowns. At the end of last year only 30% of the 25,000 calls the line had received were deemed relevant. Only twelve criminal complaints were filed based on information from the calls; the remaining 70% were generally either systematic callers or wrong numbers.
The Czech National Bank believes the hundreds of billions of crowns deposited in building savings are a risk, the central bank´s vice-governor Vladimír Tomšík has told the daily Hospodářské noviny. Tomšík said that while domestic financial institutions are in good health, the central bank is trying to make building savings spread their risks. At present, he said, people over-save because of the subsidies they receive, however an interest scare could cause two-thirds of all the money in building savings to be transferred within three months, bringing risk to the entire banking sector. According to the latest data there are 433 billion crowns saved in building savings; deposits in the Czech banking sector comprise more than 1.1 trillion.
Public Affairs MP Kateřina Klasnová has resigned her post as deputy chairwoman of the Chamber of Deputies. Klasnová told a press conference on Monday morning that she sees no reason to be bound to the government while it breaks its coalition agreement by seeking the support of party defectors. Prime Minister Nečas and Public Affairs defector Karolína Peake, she said, were attempting to persuade more members of the splintered party to join an emerging club of independents to maintain a parliamentary majority. Klasnová, who is the wife of the de facto Public Affairs leader Vít Bárta, added that she would remain in the party.
The Civic Democratic Party has withdrawn its main requirement on the emerging independent MPs supporting the government, with its leadership now saying that the government's mandate can be tested in a vote of confidence at the end of the week. Prime Minister Nečas amended his previous requirement on Monday to say that an "institutional agreement" would suffice, so that agreements would not have to be signed with each independent MP individually. Chairwoman of the lower house Miroslava Němcová said that it was easier to agree with a club and better for cooperation, but that she would withdraw from the demand if there were enough votes to keep the government in power. Deputy chairman of the Civic Democrats Pavel Drobil said that the number of MPs supporting the government was not as important as their ‘quality’.
The Civic Democratic Party has offered TOP 09 joint ballots in Senate elections in certain districts this autumn. Party chairman and Prime Minister Petr Nečas announced the decision after a meeting of the party leadership on Monday. Deputy head of the Senate Přemysl Sobotka says the idea is still too new to involve any specific constituencies. A total of 27 seats will be available in the election, with the Civic Democrats defending 14 of them. TOP 09 vice chairman Miroslav Sobotka said his party had not been consulted on the idea are would be prepared to discuss it
A new poll suggests that nearly four out of five Czechs are dissatisfied with the current political situation. According to the survey conducted by the CVVM agency, mayors and local authorities enjoy the greatest confidence while the Chamber of Deputies and government hold the least, with 12% and 16%, respectively. Public confidence in the president has dropped to less than 50% for the first time, compared to 68% this time last year.
The leaders of the three ruling parties – the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs - have agreed to end their coalition agreement as of Friday April 27. Although the junior Public Affairs party will no longer be in government, it has agreed to continue to support the government’s long-term austerity plans. Following the split in the scandal-tarred Public Affairs, the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 announced that they would no longer work with the group tied to de facto leader Vít Bárta, who was recently found guilty of bribery.
Various civic groups plan to demonstrate in front of Parliament on Tuesday. The Prague Forum and Democracy Czech-Up Initiatives intend to draw attention to members of Parliament who are suspected or even convicted of criminal activities but have not given up their mandates. Organiser Václav Němec said that MPs Pavel Bém, Pavel Drobil, Vít Bárta, and Jaroslav Škárka were jeering at the principles of politics by remaining in Parliament as if nothing had happened. The Green Party will also be present due to a vote on fees for polluters.
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