The right-wing opposition Civic Democrats have come out as clear victors in elections to a third of the upper house of the Czech parliament, the Senate, but they have fallen short of an absolute majority. Even before the vote-count was complete, it was clear that the ruling Social Democrats had failed to defend any of the three seats which they were contending in this weekend's run-offs. The smaller parties in the ruling coalition also sustained losses. There was disappointment too for the opposition Communists, who had nine candidates in the run-offs, but won in only one constituency. For the first time a Senator has been elected for the Green Party, the journalist Jaromir Stetina in Prague. The overall turnout was extremely low, at under 20 percent, the lowest in the history of Czech Senate elections.
A mass was held at Prague's Saint Vitus Cathedral on Saturday to mark the 15th anniversary of the canonization of Saint Agnes, the 13th century daughter of the King and Queen of Bohemia. She was canonized just days before the beginning of the Velvet Revolution, and the bishop and former dissident Vaclav Maly, who led the mass, warned that the ideals of that time were rapidly fading or being trivialized. Her canonization in 1989 in Rome was attended by 10,000 Czech and Slovak believers, in open defiance of the then regime's atheist ideology. Saint Agnes is remembered in particular for helping the poor and rejecting a life of privilege.
Six central European countries, including the Czech Republic, have announced that they want to set up a joint explosives and ammunitions database. At a conference in Prague the countries' interior ministers said that the database would help in the fight against organized crime. The author of the initiative, Slovak Interior Minister, Vladimir Palko, said that a special international organization, similar in structure to Interpol, would be set up to oversee co-ordination of the project.
An opinion poll carried out by the agency Median suggests that the majority of Czechs are not in favour of gay marriage. 44 percent of the 500 people asked said that they were in favour, as opposed to 56 percent against. Support for registered gay and lesbian partnerships was strongest among 15 to 19 year olds, at 70 percent, and lowest in Moravia, the traditionally more Catholic eastern part of the Czech Republic.
Passions flew on Friday at the opening night of a new production of the great 19th century Czech opera, The Bartered Bride by Bedrich Smetana. Some members of the audience cried out in disapproval of a production that highlights the humour of the opera and rejects a historical or patriotic interpretation.
The Czech ice hockey team suffered defeat in their second Karjala Cup game in Helsinki on Saturday. They were defeated 2:3 after their game against Sweden went to a penalty shoot-out. This now puts them in second place behind the Swedes, and in order to win the competition they will have to beat the Russians on Sunday and hope that Sweden loses its Scandinavian derby against Finland.
And finally the weather. We can expect cold but bright weather for the rest of the weekend, with temperatures around 4 degrees Celsius and overnight frost. There should be plenty of sunshine into the beginning of next week.
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