The leader of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, who resigned as prime minister last month is to be reappointed into the post. President Vaclav Klaus surprised many with the announcement at a special press conference on Monday. Mr Topolanek handed in his resignation after his cabinet failed to get a vote of confidence in the lower house of Parliament. He is to be given a second chance to form a new government, the President said, adding that he no longer insists it have a majority in the lower house. Mr Topolanek himself says whether or not he should accept the offer will be decided during a party leadership meeting on Tuesday.
Since the general elections in June ended in political stalemate the five parliamentary parties have not been able to agree on a new government. President Klaus said the leader of the second strongest party, Social Democrat Jiri Paroubek, was to blame and has called off a planned meeting with leaders of the five parliamentary parties, which was to be held on Tuesday.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek says he is prepared to negotiate with the Civic Democrats if their leader Mirek Topolanek is entrusted with the task of forming a new government. During a special press conference on Monday evening, for which Mr Paroubek cut short his vacation, he said the Social Democrats are willing to come to a compromise and tone down demands in terms of a policy programme and important posts. Mr Paroubek, whose party came second in the elections in June, strongly rejected any responsibility for the country's political deadlock.
Three Romany organisations have written to Pope Benedict XVI asking him to intervene in a case in which Roma rent defaulters have been forced out of the town of Vsetin by the mayor, Jiri Cunek. Vaclav Miko of the group Roma Realia Dobromerice said Czechs and Czech Christians needed to be alerted to the fact that Mr Cunek's actions were a "sin".
Members of the environmental organisation Greenpeace blocked the main entrance to the Environment Ministry on Monday. The activists were protesting at a ministry proposal to give firms permission to release 102 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the years between 2008 and 2012. On wooden planks nailed across the entrance the activists wrote "closed for inactivity" and "not protecting the climate but polluters". Four protesters were arrested by the police who needed three hours to unblock the entrance to the ministry.
The rate of corruption in the Czech Republic has declined but the country still ranks among the worst in the EU. This, according to a new Transparency International report that evaluated how the situation has changed in 163 countries in the last year. The Czech Republic figures among more than ten countries where the corruption index has improved the most. In 2005, the Czech Republic ended 47th, with 4.3 points on a ten-point scale, where 10 is the best showing, along with Namibia, Slovakia and Greece. In this year's report it finished 46th with 4.8 points, along with Kuwait and Lithuania.
Up to a third of the Czech Republic's butchers could go out of business, the head of the Czech meat processors union, Jaromir Klouda, said in an interview for Lidove noviny. Czech butchers have until the end of 2009 to meet European Union standards for preparing meat. Mr Klouda said for small butchers adapting their workplaces it would involve difficult building work and could be prohibitively expensive.
Czechs are one of the most optimistic nations when asked about employment opportunities, a European public opinion poll suggests. Results of a new Eurobarometer survey indicate that 56 percent of Czechs believe they will be employed in two years' time. In the 25 EU member states, the Czech Republic ranked 8th when it came to optimism. Citizens of neighbouring Slovakia and Poland on the other hand appear to be much more pessimistic; a mere 29 percent of each population think they will hold a full-time job in 2008.
Dutch retail giant Ahold intends to close down its supermarkets in Slovakia and Poland to concentrate on the Czech market. Ahold operates the Albert and Hypernova supermarkets and posted a turnover of 36 billion crowns (an estimated 1.6 billion US dollars) in the Czech Republic last year.
It should be rather cloudy with rain in places over the next few days. Temperatures are expected to reach up to 14 degrees Celsius by the middle of the week.
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