The way could be open to the formation of a new three-party coalition government, after a deputy from the Freedom Union opposed to such a coalition, Marian Bielesz, resigned from his seat in the Chamber of Deputies on Thursday; the man expected to replace him, Zdenek Koristka, has said he would support a coalition of the Freedom Union, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats.
The same three parties made up the previous government, which collapsed at the end of June following the resignation of Vladimir Spidla as prime minister.
If Mr Koristka throws his weight behind this formation, it will allow the acting leader of the Social Democrats, Stanislav Gross, to form a government and become prime minister. However, like the last government, it would have a majority of just one in the 200-seat lower house.
Mr Bielesz on Thursday denied suggestions that he had resigned in return for either money or the promise of an important post. He said he had quit parliament in order to reduce the possible influence of the Communist Party on the formation of a new government.
After a meeting with Mr Gross, the leader of the Communists, Miroslav Grebenicek, said his party would not be prepared to support the three-party coalition the acting chairman of the Social Democrats is hoping to put together. Mr Grebenicek said the only thing he had been offered during Thursday's meeting was mineral water.
Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda is to visit Washington next week to hold talks with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, it was announced on Thursday. Issues raised at recent summits of NATO and the G8 countries will be on the agenda during Mr Svoboda's visit to the US.
The Prague metro system was briefly brought to a halt on Thursday morning, when a young woman who was attempting to escape from a ticket inspector jumped off the platform and ran into a tunnel at Zelivskeho station. She was caught between there and Flora station within minutes. The C line was brought to a stop again a short time later, when a man threw himself under a train at Malostranska station.
The first transfer of a member of the Czech football squad since the European Championships has been agreed, with 22-year-old defender Tomas Hubschman leaving Sparta Prague for Shakhtar Donetsk. The wealthy Ukrainian club recently bought the talented young goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka from Banik Ostrava. Clubs around Europe have expressed interest in Czech players after the country's impressive run at Euro 2004.
Weather forecasters are warning of storms and hurricanes in some parts of the country on Thursday evening, as a cold front moves across the Czech Republic. Friday is expected to be overcast with rain in places. The maximum temperature should be 23 degrees Celsius.
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