Insight Central Europe News

16-09-2005

The left-wing candidate in Poland's presidential elections next month, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, has pulled out of the race. His withdrawal turns the election into a straight fight between two right-of-centre rivals, Warsaw's conservative mayor, Lech Kaczynski and the liberal Donald Tusk. Mr Cimoszewicz says he has been made the victim of a smear campaign, as fellow politicians and the media raise questions about his personal finances.

The Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, has said that he cannot imagine his Social Democrats forming a coalition with the far-left Communists after next year's general election. He was speaking after the Communist Party leader, Miroslav Grebenicek, announced that he was planning to step down, leading to speculation that the party might become more moderate. But Prime Minister Paroubek said that the Communists, which many still identify with the old regime, would have to change more than their leader in order to open the way for closer cooperation with the political mainstream.

A new opinion poll suggests that Hungary's ruling Socialists have made a big dent in the opposition's substantial poll lead, after trailing far behind the opposition right-of-centre Fidesz Party for much of the last two years. The head of Median, the company that carried out the poll, said that there had been a steady improvement in the way people saw the economic situation since the beginning of the summer. Parliamentary elections are due early in 2006.

The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus has become the first world leader to visit Israel since the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. He described the pull-out as a "groundbreaking peace initiative", saying that it was now up to the Palestinian leadership to show goodwill. Meeting the Israeli President Moshe Katsav, Mr. Klaus said that the Czech Republic would try to ensure that the European Union was balanced in its approach to Israeli-Palestinian problems.

A report carried out by Austria's Chamber of Workers and Employees suggests that women are excluded from the management of most big Austrian companies. It reveals that 45 of the 79 companies listed on the stock exchange have only men on their boards and in executive management. Less than 5% of positions on supervisory boards are occupied by women. A spokeswoman for the chamber called on companies to take active steps to increase the number of women in top positions.

16-09-2005