Daily news summary Daily news summary

Smog alert in central Bohemia

Hydro-meteorologists have called a smog alert in the central Bohemian region. The reason for the present problem is the long-lasting heat wave which has radically increased the amount of ground-level ozone in the environment.

Elderly people and people with chronic ailments have been advised to avoid increased physical activity and stay indoors as much as possible.

Former SPD member found guilty of hate speech

A Prague district court has found Jaroslav Staník, a former member of the opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (SPD), guilty of hate speech over statements he made in Parliament about Jews, Roma and gays, Czech Television reported on Tuesday.

The court issued the respective penal order on Monday, but its spokeswoman Pavla Hájková could not reveal details of the verdict since not all participants in the case had received it in writing.

The court may impose a suspended sentence of up to one year, home confinement, or a fine.

According to eyewitnesses, Stanik said on the premises of the lower house last October that the Roma, Jews and homosexuals should be shot dead at birth.

Constitutional Court extends right not to incriminate family member to “close friends”

The Constitutional Court has ruled that the right of a witness or person being interrogated not to incriminate a family member now applies also to “close friends”.

The ruling stemmed from a specific case involving a woman asked to testify about an alleged rape of a friend by her husband. The witness had refused to testify on the grounds that she was a close friend of them both.

The Constitutional Court annulled a court fine of 10,000 crowns against the woman. Justice Vojtěch Šimíček said that friendships can be stronger than family ties.

Raiffeisenbank: Czechs work 41.1 hours per week on average

People in the Czech Republic worked an average of 41.1 hours per week last year, according to a study by Raiffeisenbank, with entrepreneurs clocking in about five hours more per week than employees.

In 2003, the average Czech worked a 42-hour week. Raiffeisenbank said the reduction stems from a campaign by trade unions launched last spring to reduce the standard hours to 37.5 per week.

Raiffeisenbank said any official reduction in the workweek would hurt the Czech economy rather than further reduce unemployment.

CVVM: Every second Czech sees economy as solid

According to a poll by the Center for Public Opinion Research (CVVM), 49 per cent of Czechs see the economic situation as good, 36 per cent are undecided, and 15 per cent see it as doing poorly.

A more detailed analysis of the poll shows a strong correlation between expressed optimism and the person’s assessment of their own standard of living, satisfaction with their own life or increasing satisfaction with the political situation.

The European Commission’s spring forecast predicted Czech GDP growth will slow to 3.4 per cent this year and to 3.1 per cent in 2019. Last year, Czech economic growth reached 4.4 per cent.

Moravia Steel, Třinecké železárny will not submit binding bid for ArcelorMittal Ostrava

Neither Moravia Steel nor its subsidiary Třinecké železárny will submit a binding offer to purchase the rival steelworks ArcelorMittal Ostrava.

A Třinecké železárny spokesperson said on Wednesday that the decision had been made after “careful analysis and consideration of all aspects” of a potential deal, without providing details.

ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, is looking to sell its Czech unit and some other assets by the end of the year in order win EU antitrust clearance to acquire troubled Italian peer Ilva.

Poll: PM Andrej Babiš remains most popular politician

A June poll by the STEM agency shows Prime Minister Andrej Babiš remains the country’s most popular politician, with 47 per cent of eligible voters giving him a favourable rating. Jaroslav Faltýnek, the deputy chairman of the ANO movement which Mr Babiš founded, ranked second at 38 per cent.

STEM said that the poll results show there are still no "political stars" on the current scene viewed positively by the majority of the people.

Rounding out the top five spots are three opposition party chairmen: Ivan Bartoš of the Pirate Party at 36 per cent, Tomio Okamura of the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (SPD) at 35 per cent, and Vojtěch Filip of the Communists (KSČM) at 33 per cent.

Jan Hamáček, the party chairman of the Social Democrats – ANO’s junior coalition partner in the minority government formed in July – placed sixth, at 31 per cent.

Weather outlook

Thursday should be partly cloudy in Prague with daytime highs of 34 degrees Celsius. Rain is expected in northern and western Bohemia, and in the Vysočina and Zlín regions. Friday should be partly cloudy throughout most of the country.