Radovan Suchánek is set to become a judge at the Czech Constitutional Court, after the Senate approved his nomination on Wednesday. Mr. Suchánek serves as a legal advisor to the Social Democrats but said after winning approval that he would immediately quit the party. He told senators that he would not rule on issues in which he could be accused of bias. At 40 years of age, Mr. Suchánek will be the court’s youngest justice.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sobotka has begun negotiating with other party leaders on the formation of a government, meeting the leader of the Christian Democrats, Pavel Bělobrádek on Wednesday. He is also due to sit down with Andrej Babiš of ANO. As part of the move against him Mr. Sobotka was voted off the Social Democrats’ negotiating team. However, it has since fallen apart as the power struggle continues and a new team should be created on Thursday.
The leader of a revolt against the chairman of the Social Democrats has
admitted to a secret meeting with President Miloš Zeman after previously
denying it took place. On Tuesday the party’s number two Michal Hašek
had repeated the assertion that the meeting never happened, only to do a
u-turn on Wednesday. Three other senior Social Democrats have also finally
admitted that the talks took place on Saturday night, hours after the
outcome of a general election became clear.
At the meeting, the president, a former leader of the Social Democrats, is said to have called for the ousting of Bohuslav Sobotka as chairman in the wake of disappointing election results; the Social Democrats came first but took fewer votes than expected. Mr. Hašek on Sunday instigated a revolt against Mr. Sobotka. However, he has refused to quit and seems to be gathering momentum in the power struggle.
The eight edition of the annual KomiksFEST! gets underway in Prague on Wednesday. This year the festival will include an exhibition of work by the well-known Czech comics artist and writer Jiří Grus, a theatre performance relating to the mythical Prague WWII superhero Pérák, films, workshops and several other events.
The mayor of Prague, Tomáš Hudeček, and other councilors who are being investigated in connection with the overpriced Opencard electronic card system will not resign even if they appear in court. A representative of the mayor’s party, TOP 09, made the statement on Wednesday. Mr. Hudeček says that the police have made mistakes in their investigation of the matter. He had previously that he would quit if charges were pressed. Along with nine other current and former Civic Democrat and TOP 09 councilors, he is accused of breach of trust and breach of competition regulations. The Opencard is used for public transport and other services.
The Citizens’ Rights Party –Zemanites is meeting to debate the reasons behind its election debacle. The party, which ahead of the elections hovered close to the 5 percent support margin needed to win seats in the lower house, got a mere 1.5 percent of the vote. Its chair Zdenek Štengl, said ahead of the talks he was not ready to throw in the towel but noted that he had registered calls for his resignation from some party members. President Miloš Zeman, who openly supported the party, said it had relied too much on his popularity and done too little on its own to win over left-wing voters.
Social Democratic Party deputies have elected Jeronym Tejc head of the party’s deputies’ group in the lower house. Mr. Tejc was elected by 30 out of 50 votes. The newly elected group leader is perceived as a member of the party’s pro-Zeman faction and a critic of party leader Bohuslav Sobotka. Tuesday’s vote was seen as a test of the balance of power within the divided party. Meanwhile, the Social Democrats negotiating team, which crumbled under pressure on Tuesday is to be elected anew on Thursday at a meeting of the party leadership. Deputy Michal Hasek, Sobotka’s main party rival, has said he would like to head the team.
President Zeman awarded state decorations to 29 personalities on the occasion of Czechoslovak Independence Day on Monday night. The philosopher Erazim Kohák and playwright, actor and songwriter Jiří Suchý received the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Mararyk; the Medal of Merit, meanwhile, was awarded to opera singer Soňa Červená, communist-era businessman František Čuba, actress Jiřina Bohdalová, former athlete Jarmila Kratochvílová, and others. Several of the recipients supported Mr Zeman in his presidential bid, or ran on the ballot of his party in the weekend’s elections. The awards ceremony was marked by controversy as several dozen officials, including most university rectors, boycotted the event over their disagreement with some of the president’s recent decisions.
Former Prague mayor Pavel Bém on Tuesday testified before a city court dealing with the case of the multi-purpose Opencard project that provides access to public services. Mr. Bém rejected the claim that the project had been severely overpriced, a conclusion reached by independent auditors. Five of his former subordinates have been charged with abuse of office and violating public procurement rules in connection with the case. Prosecution argues that the contracts signed were highly disadvantageous for Prague and squandered tens of millions of crowns form public funds.
Experts cited by the CTK news agency agree that a coalition between the Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and ANO would not bring about significant economic changes. They consider such a coalition as the only viable option and note that the direct or indirect participation of ANO in government would effectively prevent the Social Democrats from raising taxes. The three parties would also most likely commit to keeping the deficit in public finances below 3 percent of GDP, experts told the CTK news agency.
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