10-04-2001

Of course, the finance minister's resignation came too late for the papers - and so the number one story on today's front pages is the future of the Four Party Coalition - which is giving observers plenty of course for concern. "Four Party Coalition hits the rocks", "Some Freedom Union members want to bow out of the alliance", "The Christian Democrat leadership set to resign" - read the headlines.

Just days after the birth of a controversial shadow Cabinet the Four Party Coalition is racked by power struggles and doubts, says PRAVO . Increasingly the two strongest parties in the alliance -the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union- have been highlighting just how much they have lost by joining the coalition and what concessions they have been forced to make, rather than talking about the advantages of joining forces.

The Civic Democratic Party must be rubbing its hands in glee, notes HOSPODARSKE NOVINY, as its two main rivals in next year's parliamentary elections - the Four Party Coalition and the Social Democrats - will be spending the next few months trying to resolve their internal problems and looking for a new identity instead of focussing on the policy issues which affect voters.

PRAVO has a full page about the problems of curbing neo-Nazi activities and gatherings in the Czech Republic. This country has become the Promised Land for neo-Nazis in Europe, notes Pravo. The Czech Interior Minister has declared war on them but he cannot win without the help of law makers, says a town mayor who had charges filed against him when he banned a neo-Nazi gathering. It is up to the law makers to make sure that the police and local authorities are not afraid to intervene, the paper says.

On a different topic, the Constitutional Court has ruled that it is the President's prerogative to appoint the governor of the Central Bank and that the absence of the Prime Minister's counter signature on the decree makes little difference. The Court has thus dashed the hopes of the Social and Civic Democrats, who had attempted to cast doubt on the president's appointment of Zdenek Tuma to the post of Central Bank Governor last November. The two strongest parties on the Czech political scene have likewise failed to push through a law curbing the President's powers in other spheres.

Are we an ailing nation? LIDOVE NOVINY claims that according to a recent survey people in Germany, Great Britain or France see their doctor on average six times a year. Czechs turn up at their GP's office three times more often. Paradoxically, our level of health is pretty much the same. So what's behind the discrepancy?

According to LIDOVE NOVINY the reason is that we still have a costly and inefficient health system. Patients are invited back for more check-ups than strictly necessary, they go to various specialists where they undergo the same or similar tests, or they go to see their doctor to get a prescription for an over the counter product because, their health insurance company will help to cover the cost.

LIDOVE NOVINY says that the health ministry is now drafting a law whereby patients could only visit a specialist at the recommendation of their GP. The idea is that with a GP coordinating the treatment - Czechs would not undergo unnecessary tests and treatments and, in effect, waste less of their own and the state's money. But because many Czechs do not trust their GP with the decision making, the proposed law suggests that if people insist on seeing a specialist, on their own recommendation - the cost of the visit should be covered by themselves.

10-04-2001