Talks on the formation of a minority Civic Democrat government have collapsed. Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek on Thursday abruptly ended negotiations with the Civic Democratic Party saying that it was now obvious that the two sides could not find common ground on the future government's policy programme. He said he would try to form his own cabinet with the help of the Christian Democrats and received a positive response from the Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek.
After a one-on-one meeting on Thursday afternoon Mr. Kalousek said he was in favour of a coalition government even if it meant leaning on the Communists for support. He said he would present the idea to his party's executive leadership. The Social Democrats and Christian Democrats are both represented in the outgoing cabinet. They said they would seek support for their coalition government across the political spectrum. The two sides have scheduled talks on a policy programme.
After an emergency meeting of its executive leadership the Civic Democratic Party said it would not support such a government under any circumstances. Prime minister designate Mirek Topolanek said his Civic Democratic Party was prepared to form a caretaker government which would lead the country to early elections and he called on all democrats across the political spectrum to prevent the return of communists to power. Mr. Topolanek also denounced the way that his rival Jiri Paroubek walked out of the bilateral talks on a minority Civic Democrat government saying that he had lied when he said they had collapsed due to the Civic Democrat's unwillingness to compromise. They collapsed, Mr. Topolanek countered, because his rival was hungry for power regardless of the fact that he was defeated in the June general elections.
In related news, the leader of the Green Party Martin Bursik called a press conference on Thursday evening to say that his party would not enter into a coalition or vote for a government supported by the communists.
The political turbulence has slightly weakened the Czech crown and caused concern among investors that the 2007 state budget and 2010 target for the adoption of the euro currency might be affected unless a new government is formed soon.
Pluto on Thursday lost its seven-decade status as the ninth and outermost planet of the solar system in a decision taken by the world's top astrononomical body the International Astronomical Union meeting in Prague. Pluto's status had been contested for many years by astronomers, who now said its tiny size and eccentric orbit precluded it from joining the eight other acknowledged planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
The outgoing Social Democratic cabinet is still discussing the possibility of sending Czech soldiers to Lebanon, to join an international peacekeeping force administered by the United Nations. According to Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, Friday's meeting of European Union foreign ministers will be key to the Czech Republic's decision. Mr. Svoboda says that it is important to clarify whether the Czech mission's mandate would be one of peacekeeping and observation, or whether the units would also be charged with disarming Hizballah. The foreign minister is also concerned about the costs of such a mission, and says that it must not jeopardize ongoing Czech peacekeeping in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, or Bosnia-Hercegovina.
The coach of the country's national football side Karel Brueckner has unveiled his 19-man squad for the upcoming Euro 2008 group D qualifiers against Wales, which take place on September 2nd and Slovakia four days later. Missing from the roster are injured Aston Villa striker Milan Baros, Bordeaux midfielder Vladimir Smicer, and Ajax defender Zdenek Grygera. The coach however will be able to depend on the services of Chelsea keeper Petr Cech and Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky. Cech is set to return to training this week following a recent shoulder operation while Rosicky, who recently picked up a groin injury, is expected to be fit in time. The Czechs will be without international stalwarts Pavel Nedved of Juventus, and Karel Poborsky, both of whom recently retired from the international game.
The next few days should bring partly cloudy skies with some rain showers and daytime highs around 23 degrees Celsius.
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