The opposition Civic Democratic Party has called on Prime Minister Jiri
Paroubek to resign from office and open the way for early elections to be
held before the end of the year. The move came shortly after the Prime
Minister accused the Christian Democrats of the governing coalition of
playing ball with the leading right wing opposition party and said that he
was ready to agree to early elections if the two parties initiated them. He
likewise indicated that the Christian Democrats were free to leave the
The crisis between the coalition parties escalated after the coalition Christian Democrats broke ranks to vote with the leading opposition party in support of establishing a parliamentary commission to inquire into suspected corruption during the privatization of the petrochemical group Unipetrol.
In response to the call for his resignation, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said that while he was ready to hold talks on an early election term he would not play by the Civic Democratic Party's scenario. The Civic Democrat's plan envisaged the Prime Minister resigning on Monday, then being asked to form a government three times and each time failing to win a vote of confidence in the Lower House. This would enable President Klaus to call early elections within 60 days. The Prime Minister said that he would accept the challenge of early elections only if they were called by the Civic Democrats and the Christian Democratic Party.
General practitioners will hold a one day strike on Thursday, October 6th in protest against the poor payment morale of health insurance companies. The General Practitioners Association will make known its demands to the Prime Minister within the next few days. Private physicians have long called for changes in the system of financing, saying that long delays in payments are threatening their livelihood. The Prime Minister has called a meeting with health insurance companies and Health Minister Milada Emmerova for Monday.
The chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party Stanislav Gross has resigned from his post. Mr. Gross, who resigned as prime minister in April amidst a scandal over his private finances, made the announcement shortly after the party voted that his successor Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek should lead the Social Democrats to the 2006 general elections. Stanislav Gross's popularity plummeted in the wake of the financing scandal and he said his resignation should help the party's prosperity.
Private physicians have announced they will go on a one day strike in protest of the poor payment morale of some health insurance companies, in particular the leading insurance company VZP. Payments allegedly arrive three to six months after they are due and physicians say the constant delays are endangering their livelihood. The one day strike is to take place sometime within the next fortnight and on the given day emergency medical care should be provided by hospital wards.
Czech director Bohdan Slama's film "Something like Happiness" won the best film Golden Shell award at the San-Sebastian film festival in Spain. The film, seen as a surprise choice for the main prize, is the story of a group of neighbours living in an industrial corner of a small Czech town. Czech actress Ana Geislerova picked up a Silver Shell award for best actress.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has accepted the role of election leader and said that Stanislav Gross's resignation was "a call to action" for the party, which trails the opposition Civic Democrats by more than ten percentage points in public opinion polls. In a rousing speech to the party leadership Jiri Paroubek said he was determined to lead the Social Democrats to a third election victory. He strongly criticized the party's coalition partners - the Christian Democrats - for allegedly undermining the work of the governing coalition and openly flirting with the opposition Civic Democrats. The Prime Minister said that if the Christian Democrats and the Civic Democrats wanted to cooperate they should propose early elections and he would readily accept the challenge.
Communist Party leader Miroslav Grebenicek on Friday confirmed his
decision to resign as party chairman. Grebenicek, 58, has headed the
party for 12 years. He said earlier he had decided to resign over party
A new party chairman is expected to be elected on October 1st at a meeting of the party's executive committee. Deputy chairman Vojtech Filip is a hot candidate for the post.
Around 1,500 police, stuntmen and emergency service workers were involved in a counter-terrorism exercise in Prague and the town of Kralupy nad Vltavou early on Friday. Simulated bombs exploded in the carriage of a train at a metro station in the centre of Prague and in a train in the town of Kralupy around 1 am on Friday. Police also sealed off a Prague train station after discovering a suspicious bag and arrested an alleged 'terrorist' at the station. The two-million-crown (82,000-dollar) exercise, sparked by the July attacks in London, was watched by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan. The interior ministry said the objective of the exercise was to test emergency rescue plans and the preparedness of Prague's metro system to cope with such a situation.
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