The finance ministry has released figures showing a state budget surplus of 7.6 billion crowns - the equivalent of roughly 340 million US dollars - in the first half of 2006. The figure is almost twice the surplus during the first six months of the previous year. On Monday at a press conference, Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced that the outgoing government had decided on a provisional budget deficit amounting to 88 billion crowns for 2007. This would translate into a public spending deficit of 3.3 percent of the gross domestic product. According to the finance minister, the proposal is fully in line with the convergence programme agreed for the development of overall debt and public finance deficits between Prague and the European Union, in preparation for adoption of the single currency euro. The Czech Republic intends to adopt the currency in 2010. The proposals will have to be approved by the incoming government. So far, a new government has yet to take office one month after Czechs went to the polls in a general election.
A member of the Social Democratic Party may be offered the chance to be speaker of the lower house. Late Monday, the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party - which won last month's general election, and signed a collation deal with two smaller parties to form the next government, announced that it will offer the post to a Social Democrat MP in exchange for support in a vote of confidence. The three-party coalition, led by the Civic Democrats, is one mandate short of the majority needed to pass in a confidence vote.
One of the lead candidates for speaker of the lower house from the Social Democrats could be Lubomir Zaoralek, who has held the post over the last four years.
Whether any trade-off becomes reality will apparently still depend on further negotiations: currently the deadlock on "tolerating" the new government has not been resolved. On Tuesday, leaders of the five parties in Parliament - including Civic Democrat head Mirek Topolanek - met to discuss ways of break the stalemate and gain opposition party support. However, the Social Democrats, for example, have so far refused to accept a deal for lower house speaker in return for tolerating the emerging centre-right government. As a result, in the interim the centre-right coalition will propose its own candidate as provisional speaker for the time being: the Christian Democrats' Jan Kasal.
The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that the general election last month was fully in keeping with law and its results are valid. The court was responding to around 70 election complaints, lodged by a number of regional politicians. The court also rejected a complaint by a Social Democrat who suggested his party had been harmed by statements made by the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party which won the election. All were ruled legitimate within the general pre-election campaign. The court did point to a number of mistakes made by election commissions, but said those had not influenced the election results.
Former Czech president and playwright Vaclav Havel as well as writer Arnost Lustig have received honorary doctorates from Western Michigan University - organising annual creative writing courses in Prague. Both Mr Havel and Mr Lustig were recognised on Monday for their literary work as well as for their contributions to human rights.
Mr Havel, who is 69, has received a number of honorary doctorates since leaving public office in 2003. Mr Lustig, connected with Western Michigan University's writing courses, said that cooperation between the university and Prague's Charles University formed a connection between America and the Czech Republic. Of Jewish origin, the writer, now 79, survived internment in Nazi concentration camps during World War Two. After the war he worked as a journalist, but left Czechoslovakia after the 1968 invasion by Warsaw Pact troops. Mr Lustig now lives in Washington.
Czech national team manager Karel Brueckner will sign on for a further two years as the coach of the national Czech football squad, in a deal that is as good as signed, a top member of the national football federation has said. On Tuesday Czech and Moravian Football Federation board member Vlastimil Kostal revealed that only a few formalities now stood in the way of a new agreement. He made the announcement shortly after meeting personally with the coach. The two year extension means that 66-year-old Brueckner will manage the Czech team through qualification for the 2008 European Championships in Austria and Switzerland.
The Czech Republic begins its campaign against Wales on September 2nd.
More sunny weather is expected throughout the week, over the two state holidays on Wednesday and Thursday. Daily temperatures should reach highs of up to 33 degrees Celsius.
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