The opposition Social Democrats say they would accept a second attempt to form a government should Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok’s cabinet fail to win a vote of confidence in the lower house. Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said on Friday that although the Social Democrats still favoured early elections as a resolution to the ongoing government crisis, they felt it was important to give the president an alternative to a centre-right coalition government led by the coalition’s nominee for prime minister Miroslava Nemcová. Under the Constitution the Czech president has two attempts at nominating a prime minister designate and the third goes to the speaker of the lower house, coincidentally Ms. Nemcová herself.
The Civic Democratic Party has described the Social Democrat’s offer as a futile attempt to gain control in the face of an existing right-wing majority in the Chamber of Deputies. The Speaker of the lower house Miroslava Nemcová said the only acceptable solution was to respect this majority, while Civic Democrat leader Martin Kuba noted the Social Democrats were desperately trying to regain control of the situation after several of their party members had nodded to offers to join the Rusnok cabinet, which is perceived by some as the president’s interim administration. On the other hand the centre-right TOP 09 noted that the Social Democratic Party’s request was legitimate and a Social Democrat cabinet would be better than the one now emerging.
Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok is selecting candidates for his interim government. On Friday he offered the post of environment minister to the vice-president of the Industrialists Union Radek Špicar. Mr. Špicar said he had taken until Monday to consider the offer. Jan Kohout has been offered the post of foreign minister, while Jaromir Schling is considering an offer to lead the transport ministry. The outgoing defense minister Vlastimil Picek has received an offer to continue in office. Three seats in the new cabinet are already filled. Martin Pecina is to be the new interior minister, Marie Benešová the new justice minister and Miroslav Toman is to head the agriculture ministry.
A court in Norway has released on bail a Czech citizen believed to have been involved in a drug smuggling incident. The man is one of two Czech bus drivers who were arrested in the country in May. The other driver and a Czech national residing permanently in Norway remain in police custody. The local police have placed an information embargo on the case.
Outgoing Prime Minister Petr Nečas said that EU funds should be available not only for post-flood relief efforts, but for preventive measures as well. He is planning to introduce this to the closing document of the EU summit he is attending in Brussels this week. The four Visegrad countries, together with Germany and Austria, have already added a paragraph to the document that relates to funding for clean-up and renovations after this year’s flooding, which affected all of the countries.
School children around the country received their end-of-year report cards on Friday. The number of children who will have to repeat the year has been getting increasingly lower in the past five years. This year the number is a little over 6,000 for the whole of the Czech Republic. The outgoing Education Minister Petr Fiala attended an end-of-year ceremony for students at the primary school in Červený vrch in Prague.
As of Friday morning drivers can use a newly opened 25 kilometer stretch of the D3 highway between Tabor and Veselí nad Luznicí. An estimated 20 thousand drivers are expected to use the connection daily. The opening of the newly built stretch of the highway was preceded by an incident on Wednesday when a car with six Korean tourists was led to the as yet unfinished road by their GPS and crashed into a pile of dirt. Four people were taken to hospital with light injuries.
The Czech Republic's external debt grew by 42.7 billion crowns to just below 2,000 billion in the first quarter of 2013, accounting for 51.9 percent of GDP, the Czech National Bank said on Friday. The debt grew mainly on higher bank and government debts. The year-on-year, external debt rose by 65.7 billion crowns. The growth in external debt was due mainly to the banking sector’s external liabilities. Their growth was linked primarily to an increase in short-term deposits accepted from non-resident banks and non-bank clients, the bank said.
The 48th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicks off in west the Bohemian spa town on Friday evening. The main section of the festival will feature 14 titles competing for the Crystal Globe, among them six world premieres. The Oscar-winning filmmaker Michel Gondry will personally present his latest picture Mood Indigo and the biggest star to attend the festival this year –John Travolta - will attend the premiere of his new movie Killing Season. Mr. Travolta is to receive the festival’s Crystal Globe lifetime achievement award.
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