Speaking in Brno on Saturday, the head of the Christian Democratic Party, Miroslav Kalousek, warned of growing influence by the Communist Party under current Prime Minister and Social Democrat Jiri Paroubek. Mr Kalousek alluded to the so-called "threat" during Saturday's party congress of the opposition Civic Democrats, who unveiled their election strategy ahead of next year's election. Both the Christian Democrats and the Civic Democrats have consistently ruled-out co-operation with the Communists, while the current prime minister has suggested the Communists could play a greater role in Czech politics in the future. Despite being one of the few unreformed leftist parties remaining in post-communist Europe, the Czech Communist Party enjoys relatively high voter support. Recent opinion polls place the party 3rd among voters, at around 13 percent.
The health minister has said he will begin looking for a candidate to
succeed Mrs Musilkova at the VZP, saying he would discuss suitable
candidates with the VZP's board of directors and members of different
political parties. He has also indicated that forced administration of
the VZP could end as soon as January.
Mrs Musilkova's stepping down was conditional to the forced administration wrapping up. The minister is expected to put forward several names over the next few days.
Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has met with his new German counterpart Frank Walter Steinmeier, to discuss a number of foreign policy issues including the movement of labour and the European Union's budget outline for the years 2007 - 2013. Meeting in Berlin, Germany's Foreign Minister outlined no changes from the previous government on the transition period banning members of new EU countries from working in Germany. At the same time, Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda stressed that Czechs represented no danger for the German labour market. During their meeting Svoboda and Steinmeier also discussed a project looking at the historic expulsion of ethnic Germans from parts of Europe - including Poland and Czechoslovakia - after World War II.
Czechs are the leading smokers of marijuana in Europe, suggests a
survey of EU states and Norway, Bulgaria and Romania which has just
been published. Some 22% of 15- to 34-year-old Czechs questioned
admitted to smoking the drug in the previous year.
The Czech Republic is also among the leading countries when it comes to the use of ecstasy, so-called magic mushrooms and methamphetamines, suggests the data released by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
The environmental group Greenpeace says carp caught in the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries contains worryingly high levels of phthalate, a harmful chemical compound found in plastics. A spokesperson said Greenpeace found traces of the chemical far above prescribed limits in carp from three stores in Prague. Carp is the traditional Czech Christmas meal.
Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolanek says he will resign if he is
unable to form a government after elections next June. Mr Topolanek made
the comment in a newspaper interview on the eve of his party's annual
conference in Brno.
The right-wing Civic Democrats have been ahead in the opinion polls for some time but have conceded ground to the governing Social Democrats since Jiri Paroubek became prime minister this year.
The rate of HIV infection is rising relatively slowly in the Czech
Republic, with 70 new cases recorded so far this year, Miroslav Hlavaty
of the charity AIDS pomoc said on Friday.
Mr Hlavaty warned that young Czechs were unworried about catching HIV, with only 20 percent saying they use condoms the first time they sleep with a new partner.
According to the latest available figures over 800 Czechs are HIV positive and almost 200 have AIDS.
Legendary British rock band the Rolling Stones are set to play in the
Czech Republic's second city Brno next summer, with the promoters due
to announce the exact date next week.
The Rolling Stones were one of the first big foreign rock bands to appear in Czechoslovakia after the fall of communism when they performed at Prague's Strahov stadium in August 1990. They have since played here several times.
Czech ice hockey forward Jaromir Jagr is currently atop the NHL's players' list of goals and assists, one point ahead of Swedish star Peter Forsberg. Jagr has had 20 goals and 17 assists for his team the New York Rangers since the start of the season, for a total of 37. Most recently Jagr helped his team defeat the Buffalo Sabres in a deciding shoot-out.