The Czech Army celebrated a Day of the Ground Forces on Saturday. Dozens of thousands of spectators flock to west Bohemia's Strasice near Rokycany every year to watch presentations of military technology and various operations of Czech and also foreign forces. One of the main highlights this year is the presentation of the new Pandur II, which the Czech Army will be adding to its fleet of light armoured vehicles in 2007. The annual "Bahna 2006" event is held for the seventeenth time.
The leaders of a proposed centre-right government of the Civic Democrats,
the Christian Democrats, and the Greens have agreed on a coalition
programme and the distribution of ministerial posts. The right-of-centre
Civic Democrats, which won most votes in the general election earlier this
month, will hold ten seats in the cabinet, including the premiership. The
two other parties will hold three seats each. Civic Democrat leader Mirek
Topolanek is slated to be the next prime minister; the head of the Greens,
Martin Bursik, could be the country's next Environment Minister, and the
leader of the Christian Democrats, Miroslav Kalousek, the Agriculture
While a new post of Minister without portfolio for European Affairs is to be introduced, the coalition is proposing the abolition of the Ministry for Information Technology and the Ministry for Regional Development. The coalition agreement is to be signed on Monday. Parliament is to begin meeting on Tuesday. Miroslav Topolanek expects a confidence vote on the new government to take place in about four weeks' time.
Meanwhile, the emerging three-party coalition came close to a crisis
after one of its MPs - Civic Democrat Milos Patera, suffered a stroke
and had to be rushed to hospital on Friday. The coalition is already
one vote short of a majority in parliament. Without Mr Patera it would
only have 99 deputies in the 200-seat lower house during the crucial
voting for the new speaker of parliament.
No official details on Milos Patera's state of health have been revealed but according to Civic Democrat Vlastimil Tlusty, his party colleague is well enough to take part in next week's vote.
The number of new ordained Catholic priests in the Czech Republic is failing to make up for the number of priests passing away, Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk said on Saturday. There are currently 1,800 priests in the Czech Republic but some ten percent are from Poland. Many priests are responsible for more than one parish. In the Prague and Central Bohemia regions, for example, priests reside in only 140 of the 250 vicarages. At a ceremony on Saturday, Cardinal Vlk ordained three new men at Prague's St. Vitus' Cathedral.
The leader of the Communists, Vojtech Filip, has said his party would support the Social Democrats' candidate for the post of lower house speaker. The vote is scheduled for next Thursday. Election of the speaker is a precondition for the old government to step aside to make way for the new. The speaker also elects a prime minister, should two attempts at forming a government fail. The three parties of the emerging centre-right coalition are expected to vote for Civic Democrat candidate Miroslava Nemcova but the Social Democrats would like the current speaker, Lubomir Zaoralek, to remain in the post.
Two people were injured and some 15 cars demolished when three floors of scaffolding collapsed at a building site in the Moravian city of Brno. The accident happened during restoration work at a building next to the luxurious hotel Grand in the city centre. A 50-year old man and a 21-year old woman, who were caught under the rubble, were recovered from the scene and taken to hospital. Doctors say they have miraculously got away with light injuries. An investigation into the accident has been launched.
In related news, Mirek Topolanek met officially with the head of the
Social Democratic Party, Jiri Paroubek, on Friday to discuss possible
support for the new government - which otherwise lacks the majority
needed to pass a confidence vote. While the two men reportedly failed
to clinch a deal so far, they have not closed the door on further
talks. Earlier Mr Paroubek said the planned centre-right cabinet could
win his backing but listed tough programme conditions that Mr Topolanek
has refused to accept. According to some analysts, the Social Democrats
may prefer to let the government fall in a confidence vote, but later
agree to tolerate a Civic Democrat-only minority cabinet. That would
theoretically allow the left-of-centre party greater influence on
Parliament is to begin meeting on June 27th. But, talks between all five parties in the lower house on how to divide up committees and key positions, such as speaker of the lower house, are continuing. Election of the speaker is a precondition for the old government to step aside to make way for the new.
The continuing heat wave in the Czech Republic is causing an increase in the need for emergency medical services. In Prague there were over 100 emergency cases attended to on Wednesday alone, including incidents of heart failure and epileptic seizures. High blood pressure and sun burns have also been threats. Doctors are warning that the elderly and those with respiratory problems should avoid the outdoors, while all should stay properly hydrated, drinking at a minimum of 2.5 litres of water per day.
In related news, national squad coach Karel Brueckner may stay on despite the Czech teams exit, leading the Czechs through qualifying for Euro 2008. Mr Brueckner, who is 66, was extended an invitation on Friday to stay on as the coach for the next two years - the matter will be decided in the coming days. Despite the Czech Republic's exit in the first round of this year's World Cup, the team has by-and-large enjoyed success during Mr Brueckner's tenure: the team, for example, reached the final four in the last European Championship in Portugal.
The leaders of a proposed centre-right government including the Civic
Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens have agreed on a
coalition programme and the distribution of ministerial posts.
According to information released on Friday, the right-of-centre Civic
Democrats will hold ten seats in the cabinet while the two other
parties will hold three each. The coalition agreement is to be signed
on Monday. Mirek Topolanek - the head of the Civic Democrats, the party
that won the general election earlier this month - is slated to be the
next prime minister, but individual names have not yet been disclosed.
Some changes proposed by the coalition include the abolishment of two
ministries: the Ministry for Information Technology and the Ministry
for Regional Development. The coalition is also proposing a new post:
Minister without portfolio for European Affairs.
Mr Topolanek said that a confidence vote on the new government - which lacks a majority in the 200-member lower house - could take place in about four weeks' time.