The European Commission has revised downward its forecast for the growth of
the Czech economy this year and in 2018. According to its latest prognosis,
Czech gross domestic product should expand by 3.0 percent this year and 2.9
percent next year. An earlier forecast had suggested growth of 3.4 percent
in 2018 and 3.1 percent in 2019.
The European Commission also issued less positive growth predictions for the Eurozone and the European Union as a whole on Thursday.
The head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Dominik Duka, has
filed a lawsuit over a pair of theatre plays staged in Brno in May, the
newspaper Lidové noviny reported on Thursday. The joint production of the
plays Our Violence, Your Violence and The Curse included a scene in which
Jesus rapes a Muslim woman as well as a depiction of Pope John Paul II in a
state of tumescence.
Protests also took place at the theatre itself during the plays, which were directed by Oliver Frljic from Croatia.
Cardinal Duka says that the theatre show represented an attack on his rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. He referred specifically to the inalienability of rights, freedom of religion and the right to dignity and honour. The prelate filed the lawsuit as a private individual.
The head of the TOP 09 deputies group, Miroslav Kalousek, has called on ANO
chief Andrej Babiš to apologise for accusing him of drunkenness. During a
break from Wednesday evening’s session of the lower house Prime Minister
Babiš said that Mr. Kalousek was plastered and also a thief.
The TOP 09 politician said he hoped the ANO leader would apologise, in which case he would cease considering legal action over the statements.
Mr. Kalousek had accused Mr. Babiš of not being manly for withdrawing to the lower house when his intention of speaking to demonstrators outside Parliament was thwarted by missiles being thrown from the crowd.
The creation of a coalition government of ANO and the Social Democrats
supported by the Communists represents the end of an era for the Czech
Republic, say some opposition politicians. The government passed the
necessary vote of confidence in the lower house in the early hours of
Karel Schwarzenberg of TOP 09 said the republic created in 1993 had now been replaced by an idiosyncratic, strong-leader style democracy shaped by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
Petr Fiala, the leader of the Civic Democrats, said the new government was “half-communist” and would do nothing for the country. Christian Democrats’ chief Pavel Bělobrádek said that the first Czech Republic had come to an end and a new one had begun.
The Communist Party’s support for the minority coalition gives the party their first share of power since 1989.
Transport services providers, including the app-based “ride-sharing”
company Uber, will have to register their revenue using electronic cash
registers as of this autumn. Uber CEO Alexei Stakh signed a new tax
memorandum on Thursday committing the company to using the system, known by
its Czech acronym EET. However, only new Uber drivers will be required to
In April, Uber also committed to operating a licensed service in the Czech Republic, thereby putting the company on an equal footing with traditional taxi companies, as its drivers will have to register with the appropriate authorities and have their earnings taxed.
The minority government of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš won a parliamentary
confidence vote in the early hours of Thursday, following a contentious
Mr Babiš’s new government is the first since 1989 to cooperate with the staunchly pro-Russian and anti-NATO Communists, who pledged to back him in exchange for positions in state-owned enterprises and policy concessions.
His centrist ANO party won nearly 30 per cent of the vote in the October general election, but many parties refused to work with him, as he faces fraud charges for allegedly misappropriating EU funds some 10 years ago.
In June, after months of wrangling, the Social Democrats formally agreed to form a coalition with ANO. Together they have 93 seats in the 200-member parliament, so Mr Babiš had to rely on the backing of the Communists, who have 15 seats, to win the confidence vote. In the end, the government received 105 votes.
Mr Babiš’s first minority government lost a confidence vote in January, after which he was invited by President Miloš Zeman to make a second attempt.
The chairman of the lower house of parliament, Radek Vondráček (ANO),
announced on Wednesday he will pay a 10-day official visit to United States
during which he plans to stress the importance of transatlantic ties and
commemorate the centenary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.
Mr Vondráček, who will be in the US from July 16 to July 25, said he had been invited to visit the US House of Representatives by his American counterpart, Paul Ryan (Republican).
In March, Mr Ryan had visited the Czech Republic while on vacation, but nonetheless during his semi-official visit addressed the parliament, where he stressed the importance of bilateral ties and solidarity among NATO members.
President Miloš Zeman expressed his support for the ANO-Social Democrat
minority coalition in a speech at the lower house of Parliament ahead of
Wednesday’s confidence vote in Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s
He praised the government’s programme statement, in particular its call for a 10-year investment program into infrastructure, both at the municipal and national level.
Ahead of President Zeman’s speech and formal debate, MPs from the conservative opposition party TOP 09 left the chamber to protest the fact that in exchange for their toleration of his government, Mr Babiš has made policy concessions to the Communists.
Another opposition party, the Christian Democrats, protested by unrolling a banner featuring the Soviet red star and declaring they would vote against any government relying on Communist support.
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