04-03-2004

U.S. presidential hopeful John Kerry's overwhelming victory in Super Tuesday makes the front pages of all the dailies today. The elaborately coiffured Democrat - who reportedly has some Czech blood running through his veins - is shown kissing his wife and daughters after winning nine out of ten states in Tuesday's primaries.

John Kerry, photo: CTKJohn Kerry, photo: CTK But it's domestic politics that dominate today's papers: the decision by Freedom Union deputy Tomas Vrbik to leave the party has placed the ruling coalition in grave danger, reports Lidove Noviny. Vladimir Spidla's centre-left coalition government has lost the fragile security of its 101-seat majority in the lower house, writes the paper.

Tomas Vrbik, photo: CTKTomas Vrbik, photo: CTK Mr Vrbik, a severe critic of the Spidla government, will remain a member of the Freedom Union parliamentary party, writes Lidove Noviny. But that shouldn't reassure Mr Spidla, says the paper: Mr Vrbik says he will vote according to his conscience, and other Freedom Union members have said they might also leave. All this does not bode well for the stability of the government, which is trying to push through far-reaching public spending reforms.

Also on the front page of Lidove Noviny: details of the Czech celebrations to mark the country's accession to the EU on May 1st. Prague will host a multicultural festival located on the islands in the Vltava, a European market in the centre of Prague, a gala evening in the National Theatre, a concert in Prague's Rudolfinum hall, and a celebration in Zitava, where the Czech Republic meets Germany and Poland.

Mlada Fronta Dnes reports that Czech teenagers drink far more than their peers in other EU accession countries. Czech sixteen-year-olds, for example, drink on average twice as much alcohol than Poles or Hungarians. Some 40 percent of young Czechs have tried alcohol, says the paper. "In a country where beer is cheaper than lemonade, the reason for this is obvious," says alcoholism expert Karel Nespor.

Also in Mlada Fronta Dnes, the advertising standards authority says it wants a controversial billboard featuring a notorious convicted killer removed from the country's streets. The advert, for the private radio station Kiss, features a photo of double-murderer Jiri Kajinek, currently serving a life sentence. The billboard shows a smiling Mr Kajinek wearing headphones and features the slogan "A Station for Life."

And finally Pravo reports today that MP Petr Kott, who resigned from his Civic Democrat party after repeated incidents of drunkenness in parliament, has begun treatment at a clinic for alcoholics. Mr Kott is keeping the clinic's location a secret, but says the treatment could last up to a year. The MP says he's determined to kick his habit and remain an MP in the lower house.

04-03-2004

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