The Sokol /or Falcon/ athletics body -a physical exercise organization founded in 1862 during the Czech national revival - has wrapped-up its all-Sokol meeting in Prague. Some 18 thousand gymnasts of all ages from all over the world took part in the week-long event, which culminated with mass gymnastics performances at Strahov stadium on Wednesday and Thursday. 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 lower house has once again failed to elect a new leadership. The centre right coalition's joint candidate for the post of speaker, Jan Kasal of the Christian Democrats, received just 99 votes of 200 on Friday morning. In contrast to last week's vote in which not all members of the Civic Democratic, Christian Democratic and Green Party coalition voted for Miroslava Nemcova of the Civic Democrats, Friday's vote secured the support of all members of the coalition. Civic Democratic MP Milos Patera who is recovering from a stroke was not present. Mr. Kasal's name had been put forward on the understanding that he would hold the post for a temporary period until a political agreement has been reached on the new government.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Social Democrats, Jiri Proubek, has
reacted to Friday's unsuccessful vote in the lower house by calling for
a caretaker government. According to Mr. Paroubek, the Civic Democrats
need to accept a compromise solution to the current government
stalemate. Mr. Paroubek says that failure to elect Jan Kasal as the
chair of the lower house is akin to last week's failed attempt to elect
Miroslava Nemcova of the Civic Democrats to the post. Social Democratic
MPs did not vote for either candidate.
Mr. Paroubek has also rejected the Civic Democrat's offer to have the leader of the lower house be a Social Democrat, in exchange for support for the three-party center-right coalition.
A poll conducted by the on-line server Novinky indicates that 60% of respondents are against the idea of a caretaker government.
Statistics released by the Czech Interior Ministry show a marked decrease in traffic accident related deaths. Compared to last year when 11 people were killed on roads during the national holidays on July 5th and 6th, this year only one person died in an automobile accident during the holidays. Transport experts credit the change to the Czech Republic's new traffic law which came into effect on July 1st, and imposes strict punishments for traffic offences. A new point system which tabulates traffic offences can result in unsafe drivers losing their licenses.
The chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, Mirek Topolanek, has reacted to Friday's vote in the lower house with a proposal to hold a supplementary election in the Czech Republic—one that would elect one additional MP to the Chamber of Deputies. Mr. Topolanek told reporters that the model was used to solve a similar post-election stalemate in Slovenia, where it proved successful. The extra MP would tip the balance that is currently set evenly at 100 seats for the leftist parties, and 100 for the center-right parties combined. Mr. Topolanek has suggested that the lower house have 201 MPs rather than the current 200, a change that would require a constitutional amendment.
Czech environmentalists are warning that a planned techno party would threaten the breeding ground of a protected bird species. The techno party in question is to be held at the end of July at a military training ground in the vicinity of Karlovy Vary. The Czech Environmentalists Association says that the land which the Czech military has offered the organizers as a potential site for the rave is a breading ground for corncrakes - a rare and protected bird species. Since the military has allegedly refused to respond to its warnings, the Czech Environmentalists Association is planning to send a complaint to the European Commission.
The outgoing Czech prime minister and Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has said that he supports Slovakia's new leftist prime minister Robert Fico despite the fact that he has formed a coalition with a far right nationalist party. Mr. Paroubek told reporters he thought the new Slovak government was being unnecessarily demonized and that he planned to write an open letter to the party of European Socialists to try and persuade them not to isolate Slovakia's new prime minister. The Strasbourg-based assembly's Socialist caucus is demanding that Fico's Smer party be excluded from the Party of European Socialists, an umbrella organization for left wing parties in the 25-nation European Union, which Slovakia joined in 2004.
Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman reached his second grand slam singles semi-final on Wednesday after winning a grueling five-set battle against Czech 14th seed Radek Stepanek. Stepanek described his 7-6, 4-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 defeat as " a match of missed opportunities and disrupted concentration". I have only myself to blame, he told reporters later. Meanwhile, the 34 year old Bjorkman was in a state of disbelief, telling reporters he did not think this would happen at this stage of his career. He will face Roger Federer in the semi-final of the men's singles on Friday.
Protestant churches in the Czech Republic are commemorating the legacy of reformer priest Jan Hus who was burnt at the stake in 1415. In his memory July 6th is a national holiday in the Czech Republic. Services dedicated to him have been held in Hussite, Evangelical and other Protestant churches around the country. Jan Hus was born around 1370 and after studying in Prague was made parish priest at the city's Bethlehem chapel. He was strongly influenced by the English reformer priest John Wycliffe, whose writings he translated into Czech. Hus refused to renounce his faith and was declared a heretic and excommunicated by a Catholic tribunal, before being burnt at the stake.
The outgoing prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, spent July 5th in the Moravian highlands visiting ex-prime minister and former party leader Milos Zeman in order to try to convince him to return to high politics and run for a post in the Senate in the autumn elections. Senate elections are due to take place in 27 constituencies in the autumn and Mr. Paroubek said he felt that a number of strong candidates could increase the party's chances in them. Milos Zeman who was in his time regarded as a controversial leader has allegedly declined the offer.