27-01-2004

Bill Gates, photo: CTKBill Gates, photo: CTK The arrival of Bill Gates in Prague, the Golden Globe Awards and the salaries of Czech deputies to the European Parliament - those are the main stories on today's front pages. The papers have also devoted plenty of space to the tragic death of Hungarian football player Miklos Feher and freestyle aerial skiing Olympic champion Ales Valenta's victory in a World Cup event.

Czechs running for posts in the European Parliament must abandon their hopes of receiving astronomical wages, says Mlada Fronta Dnes. On Monday the EU rejected a proposal for all EU parliament deputies to receive the same monthly wage of 9,053 euros, leaving in force the present state of affairs where European deputies are paid out of individual member states' budgets.

The 24 Czech deputies to the European parliament -who would otherwise have received more than the country's president or prime minister - can now hope for a monthly wage of 47 to 65 thousand crowns. According to Pravo the issue has already created controversy, with the chairman of the Parliamentary commission for European Integration Pavel Svoboda urging the Lower House not to be niggardly and pointing out that it is simply not possible to live on the equivalent of 47 thousand crowns a month in Brussels. Mlada Fronta Dnes adds that by the look of things Czech deputies to the European Parliament will get more money for their assistants' wages than for themselves.

Meanwhile, Hospodarske Noviny claims that the Prime Minister's position in government is weakening. Vladimir Spidla is losing his few remaining allies, because he is unwilling to make changes in Cabinet, the paper says. Pressure on the Prime Minister to take radical action appears to have reached a head, with some of his more vocal opponents openly calling for the return of his predecessor Milos Zeman.

The party's preferences have dropped steadily in recent months and party members accuse the prime minister of a lack-lustre performance. They claim that the party lacks impetus and that the Prime Minister is either blind to the accumulating problems or he simply does not wish to deal with them. Although most party members feel that the time is ripe for a Cabinet re-shuffle Prime Miniser Spidla is resisting change and keeping his own council.

The paper says that despite the Prime Minister's growing isolation he still has time to take action. The June elections to the European Parliament will most likely be the crucial test, Hospodarske Noviny predicts. If the ruling party's candidates fail it will certainly break the Prime Minister's back, says the paper.

27-01-2004

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