The finance ministry has released figures showing a state budget surplus of 7.6 billion crowns - the equivalent of roughly 340 million US dollars - in the first half of 2006. The figure is almost twice the surplus during the first six months of the previous year. On Monday at a press conference, Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced that the outgoing government had decided on a provisional budget deficit amounting to 88 billion crowns for 2007. This would translate into a public spending deficit of 3.3 percent of the gross domestic product. According to the finance minister, the proposal is fully in line with the convergence programme agreed for the development of overall debt and public finance deficits between Prague and the European Union, in preparation for adoption of the single currency euro. The Czech Republic intends to adopt the currency in 2010. The proposals will have to be approved by the incoming government. So far, a new government has yet to take office one month after Czechs went to the polls in a general election.
At Monday's meeting of the Social Democratic cabinet, Jiri Paroubek said that he thinks the new law on road regulations, which came into effect on July 1st, is too strict. Reports say that Social Democratic MPs have varying opinions on the new law. Over the weekend, Mr. Paroubek indicated that he is considering a temporary amnesty for drivers found guilty of infractions under the new code. Mr. Paroubek says that possible changes to the law will be considered after next week, when the Ministry of Transportation and the Interior Ministry are due to release a joint evaluation of the new law.
Czech tennis star Nicole Vaidisova has ended her run at Wimbledon
before reaching the quarter finals. The women's number ten seed and
semi finalist at the French Open lost to China's Li Na on the grass
courts on Monday. After a good start for Vaidisova in the first set,
the match ended 6:4, 1:6, 3:6.
In men's action, Radek Stepanek has advanced to the quarter finals for the first time in his career, with a victory over Spain's Fernando Verdasco. The verdict after five sets was 6:7, 6:3, 4:6, 6:4, and 6:2. Stepanek will meet Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden in the quarter final.
Meanwhile, Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic was beaten by Roger Federer, 6:3, 6:3, 6:4.
Civic Democratic Chairman, Mirek Topolanek, says that his party will no longer push for its own candidate to be elected chair of the lower house. Last Thursday, Civic Democratic candidate Miroslava Nemcova failed to gain enough support for the post in a secret ballot. The results of the vote cast doubt upon the three-party coalition between the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens, because not even all of the coalition MPs voted for Ms. Nemcova. Now Mr. Topolanek says that the coalition will propose a joint candidate—that person is expected to come from the ranks of either the Christian Democrats or the Greens. MPs will attempt to elect a new chair of the lower house on Friday.
The Sokol /or Falcon/ athletics body -a physical exercise organization founded in 1862 during the Czech national revival - is holding its 14th all-Sokol meeting at Prague's Strahov stadium this week. Some 18 thousand gymnasts of all ages from all over the world are taking part. The Sokol athletics body is one of the oldest organizations in the world. Its modern era began with its revival after the fall of communism, but even during the dark period of Czech history ex-pats around the world kept its spirit alive. The all-Sokol meeting takes place once in six years.
The outgoing Social Democratic cabinet led by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has decided not to tender its resignation quite yet. Last Wednesday, Mr. Paroubek announced that his cabinet would resign on Monday to make way for a new government, but after MPs failed to elect a new chair of the lower house last Thursday, President Vaclav Klaus said that he would not accept Mr. Paroubek's resignation for fear that it would create political instability. Mr. Paroubek has thus decided to wait, saying that there is no need for what he called "theatrical gestures."
The outgoing prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, told Czech TV that he would reconsider handing in his resignation on Monday, which would trigger the fall of his cabinet. Mr. Paroubek said that he had intended to open the way for a new administration but since President Klaus had made it clear that he would not accept the resignation at this stage it would be an empty gesture. The prime minister said he would leave the decision in the hands of his cabinet. The political stalemate following June's inconclusive general elections has complicated talks on a future government set-up.
The first same-sex marriages in Central Europe took place at registry offices across the Czech Republic over the weekend as gay and lesbian couples took advantage of a long awaited law on same-sex partnerships. The new law, which took effect on July 1st, gives gay and lesbian couples some of the advantages of a traditional marriage: inheritance rights, the right to be informed about the other's health and the right to raise children, although they cannot adopt them. It has taken seven years of lobbying to get this legislation approved and the Czech Republic is the first post-communist country to legalize gay marriage.
The 41st Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is underway in the west Bohemian spa town. A total of 230 films and documentaries will be presented at the festival, which opened on Friday night with the world premiere of Korean director Kim Ki-Duk's latest work, "Time." American actor Andy Garcia presented his first film as director at the Karlovy Vary Festival on Saturday. He said "Lost City" set in his homeland Cuba, was not a political manifesto but "a homage to Cuban music and culture". "I consider this film the work of my life" Garcia said after receiving the festival's Crystal Globe award during the opening ceremony.
The situation in most flooded areas of the country has now stabilized and clean-up operations are underway. Only a few villages along the river Dyje are threatened by rising water levels due to a dam having burst in neighbouring Austria. Close to a hundred people had to be evacuated from villages in the south-east of the country and there is damage to farm crops and roads. The full extent of the damage is not yet known.