09-04-2001

All the headlines in Czech daily newspaper today are dominated by two very different elections - one for the new chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party, and the other for the Czech Republic's new beauty queen. However, most of the papers choose to put a photo of the country's prettiest girl on the front page, while reserving the following pages for the new Social Democrat leader.

LIDOVE NOVINY says the new Social Democrat chairman, Vladimir Spidla, will turn the party sharply to the left. The paper summarises the party's political visions as outlined by Mr Spidla - regulation of the market and redistribution of assets in order to achieve social justice.

MLADA FRONTA DNES quotes Mr Spidla's first deputy, Stanislav Gross, who says the congress was a turning point in the party's history. He says he's convinced that the resignation of Milos Zeman as party leader and the adoption of a strongly left-wing programme will help the party regain lost public support and eventually win the next general elections.

The business daily HOSPODARSKE NOVINY highlights the fact that the concept of social sensitivity as put forward by Mr Spidla requires a strong state.

Considering the fact that Mr Spidla absolutely refuses the idea of paying anything for education, health care and other services, there is no chance for a decrease of the high tax burden, says the paper.

On a different note, and ZEMSKE NOVINY leads with a rather depressing statistic on the growing number of suicides in the Czech Republic. The paper points out that people take their lives most often in spring.

However, there has been an overall increase in the suicide rate. For example, in Western Bohemia, police have reported twice as many suicides in the first quarter of this year as compared to the same period in 2000.

And finally, one of the headlines on the front page of PRAVO heralds a switch towards a healthier diet among the Czech population. While in the past, pork and beef prevailed in Czech cuisine, many people now prefer fish and poultry as well as organic products.

The paper attributes the trend partly to the current panic surrounding mad cow disease and foot-and-mouth. Another reason is rather practical - it takes much less time to roast a chicken than cook a joint of beef and make a nice sauce.

09-04-2001