The head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church has hit back at a Communist Party bill aimed at taxing compensation paid to churches for property seized under the previous regime. Cardinal Dominik Duka has described the Communists’ move as a “black comedy” and says a Senate vote on the matter will determine how faith groups proceed.
The Social Democrats have chosen MEP Pavel Poc to lead them in elections to
the European Parliament. The junior party in the ruling minority coalition
is aiming to defend its four seats in the European Parliament.
Party leader Jan Hamáček said the chosen candidates reflected the party’s policy priorities and emphasized gender equality.
Jan Hamáček has a strong change of getting re-elected party leader in the party’s election conference in March after winning support from the majority of the party’s regional branches in recent days.
TOP 09 leader Jiří Pospíšil will lead the party in elections to the
European Parliament in May. Pospíšl said the party would be the voice of
all pro-EU citizens.
Other priorities include security and environmental issues as well as greater transparency in the process of drawing EU funds.
In the last elections to the European Parliament TOP 09 won four mandates. Elections to the European Parliament are due to be held on May 24-25.
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday approved a controversial
Communist proposal to tax churches on monies they receive in line with a
property restitution law enacted in 2012. The proposal will now go to the
Senate for further debate.
Opponents of the proposal argue that it is unjust to tax money paid in to the churches in compensation for properties confiscated by the Communist regime. They argue it is akin to punishing the victim of a theft and also unconstitutional, as in their view it violates earlier treaties.
The coalition government comprised of the ANO and Social Democrat parties backed the proposal by the Communists, who had threated to withdraw their tolerance of the minority government if they had rejected it.
According to the Communists, the state stands to recover about 380 million crowns annually from the roughly 2 billion crowns it now transfers to 16 churches under bilateral agreements.
In total, the churches should receive 75 billion crowns worth of land and property confiscated by the Communist regime and get 59 billion crowns worth of compensation money for the rest, to be paid out over a 30-year period.
The owner and chief presenter of the country’s most controversial television channel, Jaromír Soukup, has announced the creation of his own political movement. While it is not yet clear in which elections he intends to run, the move is expected to shake up the Czech anti-establishment political scene quite a bit.
A new amendment proposed by the Social Democrats seeks to remove slander
from the list of criminal acts. The bill, which has also received the
approval of government, will be discussed in Parliament later this month.
The Social Democrats have defended the move as a way to relieve the police of unnecessary investigations, further state that citizens’ honour and reputation are protected by the new Civil Code. Some opposition politicians say the move is unsystematic.
Slander investigations relating to politicians have received wide coverage in the media in the past.
Social Democrat MP and Former Interior Minister Milan Chovanec will give up
his seat in the lower house of parliament by the end of March, Czech
Television reported on Sunday.
He made the statement at a regional conference of the Social Democratic Party in Pilsen on Sunday. He said that he didn’t agree with the party’s participation in the ANO-led government.
Mr Chovanec failed to show up for a vote of confidence in a coalition government comprising his party and ANO last July, saying he could not raise his hand for the alliance for reasons of conscience.
Czech Communists are to hold a protest at which participants will wear
high-visibility yellow vests in central Prague on January 26, the news
website Lidovky.cz reported. The Communist Party and other groups have
called the demonstration against the high cost of housing, water,
electricity and gas.
A representative of the Prague branch of the Communist Party said they would not pretend they had not taken inspiration from France, where “yellow vest” protests – initially against a rise in duties on diesel – have been taking place since the middle of November.
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