The leaders of the three ruling coalition parties have failed to come
to a compromise over the future of the government at a joint meeting in
Prague on Wednesday. The coalition of the Social Democrats, the
Christian Democrats, and the Freedom Union, has been threatening to
break up, following internal disagreement over whether Prime Minister
Stanislav Gross should remain in office. Mr Gross has been in hot water
after failing to explain how he was able to pay for his flat in Prague
six years ago.
Fearing the scandal would damage the coalition's image, the junior Christian Democrats have called onto Mr Gross to be removed from office. However, the prime minister's party, the Social Democrats, say he has their full support and would be willing to lead a minority government without the Christian Democrats. The third coalition partner, the Freedom Union, is not in favour of a minority government and some Freedom Union senators have joined the Christian Democrats in their call for Mr Gross' resignation.
The Czech Republic is preparing for a battle against a flu pandemic. The cabinet has approved a health ministry proposal to buy medication worth 290 million Czech crowns (a little under 13 million US dollars) that reduces flu symptoms. The last flu pandemic broke out in 1968. Since it would take three months to prepare a vaccine if it were to break out today, the government plans to give the medication Tamiflu to some 1.8 million citizens - children, the elderly, diabetics, or chronic, heart or oncology patients as well as citizens needed to run the state like police officers, fire fighters, and health care workers, for example.
Property owners in the Czech Republic intend to sue the state for money
lost through regulated rent, the Civic Association of Property Owners
(OSMD) said on Wednesday. Property owners have lost up to 50 billion Czech
crowns (2.2 billion US dollars) since 2002, as the state's rent-control
system makes it impossible for them to cover basic maintenance costs, the
The decision to take the state to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg comes after that court ruled in favour of a Polish property owner last week, giving Poland six months to change its regulated-rent system to avoid property owners from making losses.
Meanwhile, some two hundred protesters gathered in front of the government offices in Prague to also call onto Prime Minister Stanislav Gross to step down. The protesters, who have been pointing to the results of opinion polls that suggest most Czechs would like the prime minister to resign, also made the same demand last week. They plan to continue with the protests every Wednesday until their demand is met.
Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has said he expects the fate of the governing coalition to be clear by the end of the week. On Wednesday he is due to hold talks with the leaders of the other two parties in the coalition, which has been in turmoil since the Christian Democrats called on Mr Gross to resign over a flat-financing scandal. Meanwhile, his Social Democratic Party have called on the prime minister to dismiss the three Christian Democrat members of cabinet.
Toyota of Japan and French carmaker PSA Peugot Citroen officially launched commercial production at their joint-venture plant in the Czech Republic on Monday. The TPCA plant, located near the town of Kolin, is said likely to become the most efficient in the world. The plant will eventually be able to produce 300,000 cars a year; two thirds of them under the Peugeot and Citroen brands, the other third for Toyota. The TPCA joint-venture is the biggest new company in the Czech Republic. The cars should be available on the Czech market in June.
Every second Czech would welcome the resignation of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross and almost one in three is in favour of holding early elections, according to a new poll by the SC&C agency. The poll of 908 people was conducted for the leading Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes following calls for the prime minister to step down over the unclear financing of his apartment and his wife's controversial business activities. Of those surveyed, roughly one in five had no opinion as to how the current crisis in the governing coalition should be resolved, while only one in ten said they were in favour of Mr Gross's party, the Social Democrats, forming a minority government. Roughly one in four persons polled said they would prefer that Mr Gross resign but have the coalition remain in power.
A Czech student won the Miss Tourism World 2005 title at a ceremony in the Zimbabwean capital Harare on Saturday. Zuzana Putnarova, who turns nineteen on Monday, beat 93 contestants from 82 countries. The pageant, organised by the Britain-based Miss Tourism World Organisation, aims at promoting tourism in parts of the world in dire need of promotion. The ceremony, which was held at the Harare International Conference Centre, was attended by some 2,000 people, including Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe.
The country's leading commercial station, TV Nova has reported that police officers are on substantially lower pensions than they are entitled to. The Supreme Court has recently ruled that, for the past thirteen years, the Interior Ministry has been using an existing loophole in the law to pay its retired police officers some 4,000 crowns (around 170 US dollars) less a month. TV Nova reports that last year alone, the ministry managed to save close to 9 million crowns (around 375,000 US dollars).
Sunday is the last day of Prague's seventh Czech music theatre festival, Opera 2005. Due to illness, the festival will not be closing with a performance of Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades but with Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, at Prague's State Opera. Since January 7, visitors were able to see opera groups from around the country perform at various venues in Prague. The festival will officially come to a close on Saturday with an award ceremony for best performance and best performers at a gala concert at Prague's Estates Theatre.