Czech MPs have elected Stanislav Křeček as the country’s next
ombudsman. A former Social Democratic Party MP and deputy ombudsman, Mr.
Křeček, who is 81, will replace Anna Šabatová when her six-year term
ends next week. The new public advocate was elected by 91 of 175 deputies
in a secret ballot in the 200-seat lower house.
Mr. Křeček says he will defend the rights of the majority population and has said for instance that Romanies should take care of their own rights. Opposition parties have criticised his election, with the leader of TOP 09, Markéta Pekarová-Adamová saying he would debase the office of ombudsman.
Supporters of Mr. Křeček, who was nominated by President Miloš Zeman, say he is familiar with the institution, having previously worked there, and will help return it to its original mission.
The speaker of the Senate Jaroslav Kubera has died at the age of 72, a
spokesperson for the upper house reported on Monday. Mr. Kubera was
reported to have been unexpectedly taken ill on his way to work and died
shortly after in hospital. Jaroslav Kubera was elected head of the Senate
in November of 2018. In previous years he served as mayor of Teplice (1994
Tributes are pouring in for the seasoned politician from across the political spectrum. Jaroslav Kubera was a fine man with a great sense of humour. When he took the helm in the Senate he gave things new dynamics, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš wrote on Twitter, extending heartfelt condolences to Jaroslav Kubera’s family.
President Miloš Zeman said via his spokesman: Although we had differences of opinion, I considered Jaroslav Kubera a friend. The news of his death touched me deeply.
The head of the Civic Democrats Petr Fiala, Kubera’s own party, said Kubera was a good and honest man, a defender of freedom and common sense.
The head of the centre-right TOP 09 party Markéta Adamova said Kubera would be remembered as a straightforward politician who always spoke his own mind. I did not always agree with him, but his attitude commanded respect, Adamova said.
Pensioners in the Czech Republic will see an increase in their monthly
old-age pensions by 6.7 percent on average, which amounts to around 900
crowns, as of January 2020.
The hike is higher by about 200 crowns than the increase that the pension law would normally allow, based on salary growth and inflation. It is the second hike in succession as the government strives to bring pensions faster to a higher level.
The Social Democrats of the ruling coalition, who hold the Labour and Social Affairs portfolio, say they want pensions to reach 50% of the average wage by the end of the government’s term in 2021.
Jan Hamáček, leader of the Social Democrats, a junior party in the ruling
coalition, has said his party will not be taking part in a meeting called
by the opposition Pirate Party in response to the EC audit alleged to have
confirmed that the Czech prime minister has a conflict of interest.
The opposition centre-right parties are seeking coordinated action in response to the news and are calling for the audit to be made public.
The Social Democrats are refusing to be drawn into the dispute, with Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček telling journalists that the audit is primarily the problem of the prime minister’s ANO party.
Neither the Social Democrats nor Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct
Democracy would have made the five-percent threshold to reach the Czech
lower house if elections had been held last month, suggests a newly
published poll conducted for Czech Television by the Kantar CZ agency. Both
parties would have got 4.5 percent and exited the Chamber of Deputies, the
Government leaders ANO would have received the backing of 31.5 percent of respondents, ahead of the Pirates on 17 percent and the Civic Democrats on 12.5 percent.
Scrutiny regarding the handling of funds by the country’s two public
broadcasters – Czech Television and Czech Radio – should be handled by
the politically independent Supreme Audit Office instead of Parliament,
according to a proposal submitted in the lower house by four Social
Democrat members of the Chamber of Deputies.
The proposal was made amid an ongoing dispute in the lower-house, where the Communists and the Freedom and Direct Democracy party are blocking approval of Czech Television’s annual budgets.
Czech Television stated via its social media that its management is already subject to a multi-level audit and that it would not be opposed to scrutiny from the Supreme Audit Office.
The Czech Republic has halted arms exports to Turkey in response to
Ankara's incursion into northern Syria, Interior Minister Jan
Hamáček (Social Democrats) announced via Twitter on Monday evening,
following a government meeting. Trade Minister Karel Havlíček, whose
ministry had published the country's arms export figures earlier that
day, said that armaments exports to Turkey only make up around CZK 140
The news comes after meeting of the European Union's foreign ministers in Luxembourg, where member states pledged to suspend weapons exports to Turkey, but did not go as far as to implement a formal EU-wide arms embargo. During which Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) told journalists that he will propose to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš that the Czech Republic take part in an arms embargo on Turkey.
The ANO-appointed minister of finance, Alena Schillerová, says that if the
Social Democrats put forward a special tax on the banking sector it would
be in breach of the coalition agreement.
The latter party’s minister for labour and social affairs, Jana Maláčová, said last week that she would submit a bill on a banks tax herself if no agreement was reached with ANO on the matter.
Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Minster Schillerová said if her cabinet colleague actually put forward legislation to that effect it could spell the end of the coalition government.
Ms. Maláčová argues that Czech banks are making record profits.
The Czech Banking Association says 15 EU states have a bank sector tax.
The ANO party rose slightly in the polls in September and would receive 31
percent of the vote according to a September MEDIAN agency poll released on
Monday. At 13.5 percent the Pirates retain their position as the second
strongest party the Median survey shows, despite receiving 0.5 percent less
than in August. They are closely trailed by the Civic Democrats at 12.5
percent, whose preferences have gone down by 1 percent compared to August.
The anti-migrant Freedom and Direct Democracy party would receive 7.5 percent of the vote followed by the Social Democrats who are polling at 7 percent. The bottom three parties that are polling above the minimum level needed to enter the chamber of deputies are the Communist Party at 6.5 percent, TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents who would both receive 5.5 percent according to the poll, meaning that all of the parties currently in the lower house would retain their representation.