Daily news summary News

23-10-2006

Right-of-centre Civic Democrats dominate in municipal and Senate elections

The right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party led by Mirek Topolanek has dominated in both municipal and Senate elections held throughout the Czech Republic at the weekend, elections largely seen as the first important test for the right-of-centre party and others - predominantly the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, the Communists, and the Greens - after parliamentary elections proved inconclusive in June.

Among the large parties in the municipal elections the Civic Democrats won 30 percent of the overall vote - dominating in larger towns - especially the Czech capital where they won an outright majority. Second in the overall number of votes were the Social Democrats with 17 percent, the Communists with 12, the Christian Democrats with 8, and the Greens with 4.5.

The right-of-centre Civic Democrats also dominated in the first weekend of Senate races, with 26 out of a possible 27 candidates making it through to the second round. If 14 of their candidates succeed next Friday and Saturday, or as many as 22, the party could win a senate or even a constitutional majority.

President Klaus says results indicate mood of the public

To an extent, the local and Senate elections have been viewed as a referendum on the inconclusive parliamentary elections in June which prevented politicians from forming a stable government: Mirek Topolanek's cabinet failed in a vote of confidence after just 30 days. President Vaclav Klaus commented the results by saying they were an indication of the mood in Czech society and that they signalled a political solution to the country's drawn out crisis. He is expected to name a new prime minister designate after the Senate elections conclude.

Meanwhile, acting Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told journalists on Monday that his party's success in the municipal and Senate elections is not likely to make negotiations on a new government any easier. But, he did suggest they could be a signal for political rivals, the Social Democrats. Mr Topolanek's Civic Democrats are pushing for early parliamentary elections as the only solution to the continuing political deadlock. The Social Democrats led by Jiri Paroubek have favoured forming a grand coalition. Negotiations on a new government are expected to resume soon.

Bem likely to lead city hall for next four years

Prague's Lord Mayor Pavel Bem is likely to retain his post for a full term, that is, the next four years, after his party, the Civic Democrats (of which is also a deputy chairman) won a resounding victory in Prague in municipal elections at the weekend. In Prague, the Civic Democrats clinched more than 54 percent of the vote, and will hold 42 of 70 seats at city hall. The result means that the Civic Democrats could govern alone as a majority; nevertheless Mr Bem has not ruled out a broader coalition.

Klaus attends ceremonies commemorating 50th anniversary of Hungarian Uprising

Czech President Vaclav Klaus - attending ceremonies in Hungary commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule - has said that he would be glad if the young generation never forgot what occurred in Hungary 50 years ago. "Forgetting", the president said, meant facing "formidable consequences". The president stressed that there was no danger today of the emergence of a communist regime similar to the one that brutally suppressed the Hungarian Uprising in 1956. The ceremonies to mark the anniversary are being attended in Budapest by dozens of foreign delegations. Fighting that occurred during the uprising in 1956, mostly in Budapest, cost 2,600 Hungarians their lives. More than 200 people were executed for their roles in the uprising and 200,000 people fled the country.

Antitrust office approves subsidies for Hyundai

The Office for the Protection of Competition has approved state subsidies for Hyundai's planned car plant in northern Moravia. The information was released by a representative on Monday. According to Hyundai's contract with the Czech Republic, the company will be eligible to receive subsidies of up to 2.4 billion crowns - the equivalent of around 106 million US dollars. The plant - as well as up to fifteen suppliers - could then receive an additional 2.5 billion crowns towards creating new jobs and introducing re-qualification programmes for employees. According to the office the state subsidies are fully in-line with EU norms, but the subsidies will still need to be approved by the European Commission.

Agrarian Chamber releases new statistics

The Agrarian Chamber has released new statistics which it says show that the Czech Republic is growing increasingly dependent on the importing of certain foodstuffs, with domestic production no longer sufficient to cover some demand. According to the Chamber's president, Jan Veleba, this could lead to a rise in prices on some products in the future. The president of the Chamber says that Czech farmers have stopped producing some foodstuffs as a result of cheap imports following EU accession. This year, for example, marks the first time domestic potato production will not cover Czech demand. Analysts, however, disagree over the seriousness of the impact: some blame recent Czech governments for not doing enough to protect Czech agriculture, while others say that in a globalised economy the Czech Republic a priori lacks the necessary conditions to be a large-scale producer.

Frolich, Korner receive state prize for translation, literature

Frantisek Frolich and Vladimir Korner have been awarded the annual state prize for translation, and literature, respectively. 62-year-old Frolich, a specialist in English and Scandinavian languages, has translated drama and prose into Czech, including works by Karen Blixen, Hans Christian Andersen, August Strindberg and Harold Pinter. 70-year-old Vladimir Korner, who received the prize for literature, is the author of numerous well-known Czech novels as well as screenplays. He is perhaps most highly regarded for Valley of the Bees, made into a film by the late Czech filmmaker Frantisek Vlacil. The state prizes for literature and translation are worth 250,000 and 125,000 crowns and are presented by the Culture Ministry.

Radio competition winner arrives for week's stay in Czech capital

The winner of Radio Prague's annual radio competition, Dimitrij Balykin of Russia, has arrived for a week's stay in the Czech capital. Mr Balykin, along with several hundred others took part in the competition, but his entry on the topic of "Czech sounds" was judged the best by the jury. Mr Balykin wrote about the usefulness of audio in Prague's metro especially for the blind and poor-sighted. Mr Balykin himself is blind. His week in the capital will include visiting a number of key tourist sites, as well as sitting down for an interview with Radio Prague - the international service of Czech Radio.

Berdych in top ten for first time

Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych has made it into the ATP men's top ten ranking for the first time. His advance to the semi-finals of the Masters at Madrid earned him enough points to reacth tenth spot, only a few points behind American player Rob Blake.

Weather

Mostly rain and cloudy periods are expected in the next day or two with daytime temperatures reaching highs of around 15 degrees Celsius.

23-10-2006