Jiri Paroubek, chairman of the Social Democrats, held a press conference on Monday morning to clarify interpretations based on his appearance on Sunday's TV talk show program hosted by Vaclav Moravec. Mr. Paroubek says that he did not offer the Civic Democrats a grand coalition arrangement during the TV debate, as was widely reported by the media. Mr. Paroubek said that he views the possibility of a grand coalition as one of four possible options for resolving the government vacuum in place since the June elections resulted in a political deadlock. The other options listed by the Mr. Paroubek include a coalition government composed of the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens, which would need to rely on support from the Communist Party in order to count on at least 101 seats in the lower house; and a caretaker government; or a Social Democratic minority government. In Sunday's TV debate, Mr. Paroubek said that he would not have a role to play in the case of a grand coalition between the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats.
The Civic Democrats have dismissed the possibility of a grand coalition with the Social Democrats. Mirek Topolanek, the Civic Democratic leader and his deputies met with President Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle Monday afternoon; Mr. Klaus told the press that he is also opposed to a grand coalition.
In related news, the Social Democratic leader Jiri Paroubek has called on the smaller parties in the lower house, the Christian Democrats and the Greens, to publicly explain exactly how relying on the support of the Communist Party to bolster a coalition of Social Democrats, Christians Democrats and Greens is dangerous. Mr. Paroubek said that if the smaller parties do not provide concrete reasons for refusing to collaborate with the Communist Party, they are then "giving priority to unproductive anticommunism, rather than to fulfilling their own electoral promises."
Both the Christian Democrats and the Greens made public statements on Monday, confirming that they have no intention of participating in a coalition government that would be dependent on the votes of Communist Party MPs. The coalition of Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, and Greens that Mr. Paroubek is proposing would depend on support from the Communist Party in order to survive a vote of confidence.
Sunday's edition of the TV political talk show, Otazky Vaclava Moravce, which airs on CT1 registered more than three-quarters of a million viewers. This past weekend Vaclav Moravec's guests were Civic Democratic Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, and the chairman of the Social Democrats, Jiri Paroubek. The high viewer interest generated by the ongoing instability on the Czech political scene resulted in Vaclav Moravec's show of October 15 being the most-watched program in this autumn's television line-up thus far.
A new poll released by the Factum Invenio agency suggests that if early elections were held, the Civic Democrats would win with 35.9% of votes, and the Social Democrats would secure 27.2% of votes. The poll's findings indicate that the Communist Party would place third with 13.9%, the Greens would get 8.4%, and the Christian Democrats 6.9%. Thus according to these results, the Social Democratic Party has decreased in popularity since the June elections, while the Greens have improved their ratings.
The Czech Republic's best-known beer producer, Pilsner Urquell, has announced that it will raise prices as of November. The west Bohemian-based brewery, located in the city of Plzen, made the announcement citing rising costs of barley, energy, and packaging materials. A half-liter of Pilsner will go up in price by 1.40 Czech crowns; the current cost is 16.50 Kc.
This past weekend marked another high number of tragic deaths on Czech roads. Eleven people died as a result of automobile accidents this past Saturday and Sunday. Police statistics show that recently every second weekend has marked a high number of traffic fatalities. There were a total of 655 accidents recorded this past weekend.
Petr Cech, the goalkeeper for London's Chelsea, could stay away from the football field for as long as six months. The 24-year Czech goalie suffered a head injury during Saturday's play in the Premier League, and had to undergo surgery for a depressed fracture of the skull in a London hospital. Petr Cech was caught by a challenge from Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt in the first minute of play and was carried off. Coach Jose Mourinho said he thought Cech was lucky to be alive after being caught in the head by Hunt's knee, branding the Reading man's challenge "a disgrace". Petr Cech is now recovering in hospital and experts say that an early return to the field would leave Cech risking "repetitive injury syndrome," and would also leave him vulnerable to the risk of internal bleeding if he suffered an injury before recovering fully from Saturday's accident.
The next few days are expected to be partly cloudy with daytime highs reaching 16 degrees Celsius.
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