30-01-2004

Some of the attention grabbing stories on today's front pages are: the first official photograph of the latest Skoda model Octavia, news that senator Vladimir Zelezny, the controversial former media mogul, is running for elections to the European Parliament and the President's sudden desire to move house in the wake of a revelation that the presidential villa -located in a prestigious Prague district - was confiscated from a German family under the post war Benes decrees.

Skoda Octavia, photo: CTKSkoda Octavia, photo: CTK Both Pravo and Lidove Noviny have contacted the president's office for confirmation that a move is being planned and both were informed by the head of the President's office Petr Hajek that the matter was being given serious consideration. Mr. Hajek said that the president and his team had had no idea the presidential villa was one of the buildings confiscated under the controversial Benes decrees. It is not a tragedy, he said, but the president feels that a new building - without a history - would be desirable for the Czech head of state.

The presidential villa, photo: IDNES.cz, 30.1.2004The presidential villa, photo: IDNES.cz, 30.1.2004 Rifts within the governing Social Democratic Party and the Premier's position in these stormy waters have received plenty off attention. The Social Democrats are caught in their own trap, says Mlada Fronta Dnes. They fear implementing radical reforms because of their dropping popularity -but they made many promises to voters which can only be brought about by implementing such reforms.

The Prime Minister is poker faced, refusing to acknowledge these problems but his position is slipping, says the paper. He is haughty in the face of broken promises and he bungled the nomination of the Czech Republic's EU commissioner, making it the decision of a single party. This will be grist to the mill of many Euro-sceptics, the paper says.

Clearly the Social Democrats are not happy with the present state of affairs, says Pravo, noting that the Prime Minister had only absented himself from the country for few days before there were calls for his predecessor to return. The past few days have unveiled growing opposition to Mr.Spidla and plans to try to bring about change at the next party conference, the paper says.

In a brief interview for Mlada Fronta Dnes the Prime Minister himself addresses the speculation regarding his future. Just back from an official visit to Portugal, the Prime Minister said he was certain he could calm the storm within the Social Democratic Party. I expect there will be some hot debates - but the Social Democrats are used to hot debates - that reflects the democratic character of the party, Mr. Spidla said.

30-01-2004

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