Former prime minister Mirek Topolánek has suggested he will leave the party he once headed, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, telling the weekly Euro he would probably not renew membership in March of next year. He told the magazine that the chances of his paying the annual membership fee was “close to zero”; the party, which heads the current government coalition, has suffered a significant drop in voter preference recent opinion polls, coming third behind both opposition parties the Social Democrats and the Communists. Speaking at the party’s convention in November, Mr Topolánek pushed for changes in leadership which he says did not happen. Mr Topolánek first joined the Civic Democrats in 1994; he took over as leader in 2002 and led the party shortly up until the 2010 elections, when he was replaced by current leader Petr Nečas.
The head of the opposition Social Democrats Bohuslav Sobotka also met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday, in which he stressed that a guarantee regarding the final price of completion of the project as well as an upholding of the completion deadline as well as safety of Temelín as important. Besides the Czech Republic’s nuclear power plant Temelín, Mr Sobotka and Mrs Clinton discussed other matters including the EU, the situation in Syria and Afghanistan.
Students in their last year at high school had their last chance on Monday to apply for high school-leaving exams next spring. The exams include a compulsory section in the Czech language and an option of choosing between either mathematics or a foreign language. After numerous mistakes in the last exams, changes in testing were introduced: namely all students will be tested at the same level (without, for example, an advanced option in maths).
The Supreme Audit Office has uncovered shortcomings in management at the Office of the President and Lány Forestry Administration, an allowance organisation. The bureau uncovered mistakes in accounting and inventory as well as a number of public tenders, a spokeswoman revealed; there was no misuse of state budget funds and some of the problems uncovered have already been rectified. The main task of Lesní správa Lány, the Lány Forestry Administration, is to meet the requirements of the president and guests at the presidential chateau and grounds.
The Czech government plans to keep community service for the unemployed
which was overturned last week by the country’s Constitutional Court, the
minister of labour and social affairs, Ludmila Müllerová said on Czech TV
on Sunday. To accommodate the objections of the court, the system might
undergo some minor changes, Ms Müllerová said. These could include the
prolongation of period after which the jobless are required to start
community service, and even a possibility of some salary being paid to
those who take part in the programme.
The Constitutional Court last week said the free yet compulsory community service for the unemployed, introduced by the Nečas government last year, was humiliating, in breach of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and also contradicted a ban on forced labour.
The economic recession has curbed the interest in renting and purchasing
traditional costumes of St Nicolas, the angel and the devil donned on the
upcoming holiday of the saint, the news agency ČTK reported. Quoting a
survey among several costume rentals in the capital, the agency said many
people bought their own costumes in the past or only rent the costume of St
Nicolas, rather than the complete trio.
A central European analogy to Santa Claus, St Nicolas accompanied by an angel and a devil brings small gifts to children on the night of December 5, the eve of his holiday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke over the phone with his
Czech counterpart, Petr Nečas, over the weekend to express his gratitude
for the Czech vote against the Palestinian status upgrade at the United
Nations, the news website Jerusalem Post reported. In Thursday’s vote in
the UN General Assembly, the Czech Republic was the only EU country to vote
against the bid. Mr Netanyahu also said he would stop in Prague on his way
to Germany next week to personally thank the Czech Republic for voting with
Czech banks post higher profits in Q1-3
Czech banks posted higher annual profits in the first three quarters of this year, according to figures released by the Czech central bank on Sunday. Their net profits increased by 10 billion crowns and reached 52.2 billion crowns. The banks’ interest returns were one percent higher while fees and commissions generated 2.5 less revenues than in the same period last year. The highest increase in profits was reported by Česká spořitelna which made 11.8 billion crowns, representing a 23-percent rise; Komerční banka’s profits reached 10.9 billion crowns which was 55 percent more than last year.
The Christian Democratic party wants to double its tally in the next general election and re-enter the lower house of Parliament, party chair Pavel Bělobrádek said. Speaking at the party’s conference in Jihlava on Saturday, Christian Democrat leaders called for unity and more activity on the regional level. The party also slightly changed its statutes discussed changes to the name of the party; however, the conference decided to keep the name of the Christian-Democrat Union – the Czechoslovak People’s Party. In the 2010 election, the party only won some 4.3 percent of the vote and failed to win seats in the house, for the first time in 90 years.
The Czech Republic’s security council is set to discuss on Monday a possible deal with Sweden to extend the lease of the JAS 39 Gripen fighters. The outgoing Czech Defence Minister, Alexandr Vondra, will inform the council of the negotiations; Mr Vondra said earlier this week the latest offer was much better than the one made previously. The ten-year-lease of the Swedish-made fighters will expire in 2014; the Czech government prefers an extension of the lease to a new tender. The news agency ČTK reported that three possible deals are being discussed: a three-year extension for over five billion, a five-year lease for nearly eight billion, or a ten-year extension for more than 14 billion crowns.
The authorities have asked drivers to exercise extra caution in parts of the country affected by adverse weather conditions. In the west of the country, some roads are covered with ice while in the east, snow and fog can cause poor visibility. Roads in the mountainous areas including the Šumava are reportedly covered with snow.
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