As Czech meteorologists warned, powerful summer storms hit some parts
of the Czech Republic on Tuesday. Strong winds have caused serious
damage in the south Moravian region surrounding Zlin. Firefighters are
dealing with uprooted trees and downed electrical lines. Trees have
blocked roads and damaged parked vehicles. Heavy rain in the region has
also flooded many cellars, said a spokesman from the local fire
department. Storms are expected to strike again in several Moravian
regions, bringing heavy rains, winds, and hail.
Subject to similar drastic weather conditions, the chateau of Pohanska near Breclav, has been damaged by a hailstorm. The daily Pravo writes that the chateau looks as though it was the victim of a military firing squad. There is extensive damage to chateau Pohanska's façade, and eight windows were broken as a result of the storm.
Despite earlier assertions by the Social Democrats which claimed they would re-nominate Lubomir Zaoralek for chairman of the lower house, they failed to do so in Tuesday's sitting. Reports say this decision came after the Social Democrats failed to secure behind-the-scenes majority support for Mr. Zaoralek's nomination. The deputy chairwoman of the Civic Democratic Party, Miroslava Nemcova, is thus the only nominee for the lead post in the lower house. Her election to the post will depend on the vote of at least one Social Democratic or Communist MP. MPs are scheduled to cast their secret ballots on Thursday morning.
An anonymous bomb threat called in on Tuesday afternoon stopped train travel on one of the Czech Republic's busiest rail routes. Trains traveling between the Moravian capital of Brno and the city of Breclav were stopped and bomb experts called to the scene. The train route in question is the main throughway from the Czech Republic to neighboring Slovakia and Austria. Buses have temporarily replaced the regular railway connections.
The Czech Republic's newly-elected MPs have held their first meeting in
the Chamber of Deputies. Tuesday afternoon's program for the new MPs
consisted mainly of nominating candidates for senior posts in the lower
house. MPs also decided that Civic Democrat, Petr Tluchor, will head the
Chamber of Deputies' election committee, which consists of 12 members and
must be formed before Thursday's key vote on the chair and deputy chairs
of the lower house.
Tuesday's meeting in the lower house was also important as the new MPs were handed confirmation of their electoral mandates. Most MPs arrived to pick-up their documents, though some were missing—among them Jiri Paroubek, David Rath, and Zdenek Skromach, all senior members of the Social Democratic Party.
Prague's High Court upheld the life sentence of murderer Viktor Kalivoda on Tuesday. The man better known as "the killer in the woods" was sentenced to life behind bars in March, but appealed the original verdict. Mr. Kalivoda killed three people in mid-October 2005, and police arrested him shortly thereafter. The victims were picked randomly and the shooter confessed to his crimes during the first trial. During Tuesday's court proceedings, Mr. Kalivoda said that he had also planned to conduct a shooting spree in Prague's subway system.
The Rolling Stones will not appear in the Czech Republic this summer, after plans to reschedule a date in Brno were abandoned. The British rock band had been due to play in the Moravian capital in mid-June, but pulled out when guitarist Keith Richards underwent an operation. The Rolling Stones have appeared in Prague four times in the past decade and a half.
The lead candidate for prime minister, Mirek Topolanek of the Civic Democratic Party, has told reporters that he would support the establishment of an American anti-missile base in the Czech Republic. Mr. Topolanek says that such a move would not only contribute to alliance agreements that the Czech Republic has, but would also add to the safety of the Czech state. Mr. Topolanek told the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes that details pertaining to an upcoming visit by a NATO delegation are currently being ironed-out, and that he sees no need for a national referendum on the issue—according to the Civic Democratic leader, the government should decide whether or not to establish the anti-missile base. The matter will be decided within weeks, as the Americans are awaiting an answer by the end of September; Congress will discuss the possible base in the autumn sitting, and construction could begin in 2007. Poland and Hungary are the other possible candidate countries in the running to house the anti-missile base.
According to a study released by Health Consumer Powerhouse (HCP), France has the best healthcare system among European Union member countries, while the Czech Republic ranks 22nd among EU states. The ranking is based on five categories: patients' access to information, the waiting period for treatment, the results of care received, the overall generosity of the healthcare system, and access to medicine. Health Consumer Powerhouse, which is based in Stockholm and Brussels, compiles its index based on a combination of public statistics and independent research. Among the new member states of the EU, health services in Estonia and Poland rank better than those of the Czech Republic.
After three weeks of negotiations representatives of the Civic Democrats,
the Christian Democrats, and the Green Party have signed a coalition
agreement. Their agreement entails details of a common program which
focuses on relations with the European Union, international cooperation,
family matters, education, culture, respect for the rule of law, the fight
against corruption, a healthy economy, and comfortable rural and urban
living standards. The division of ministry posts has also been decided,
with the Civic Democrats allotted nine posts, and the Christian Democrats
and Greens three each. Mirek Topolanek, the coalition's proposed prime
minister, says that all ministers will be required to submit a personal
property audit which will be kept in a safe at the office of the
government. Such a move is meant to ensure transparency and prevent
financing scandals that have befallen previous Czech politicians.
Before the official signing, the leader of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, said that the agreement is a compromise for all three participating parties, and that this coalition deserves a chance to govern. The three-party coalition occupies 100 seats in the 200 seat Chamber of Deputies, and it will need the support of at least one Social Democrat or Communist Party member in order to pass a vote of confidence.