The deputy chairman of the Social Democrats for management, Martin Starec, has resigned from his post. The CTK news agency reports the reason behind Mr Starec's decision was the fact that the modified party rules weakened his powers. The text of the party rules was the subject of a heated debate during Friday's meeting of the party leadership. The Central Executive Committee of the Social Democrats approved the new party rules on Saturday.
A poll conducted by the Media Institute and published in the Mlada fronta Dnes daily on Saturday, suggests that 67 percent of Czechs approve of the new transport law which introduced tougher punishments for driving offences. According to the poll, most Czechs believe that drivers will be more cautious and there will be fewer accidents. Over two-thirds of drivers admit that the new law has forced them to change their driving habits. Since the law took effect on July 1st, 43 people have been killed on Czech roads. During the same period last year, the number was 73, Mlada fronta Dnes writes.
The Central Executive Committee of the Social Democrats has unanimously
approved the steps taken so far by party leader and outgoing prime
minister Jiri Paroubek in post-election negotiations. The party body has
also authorised the Social Democrat leadership to hold talks next week
with the emerging centre-right coalition of the Civic Democrats, the
Christian Democrats and the Greens about policy priorities and programme
Talks on the formation of a new government have been going on for some six weeks, since a national election resulted in a perfect split in the lower house of the Czech Parliament.
The election of the chairman of the lower house, originally scheduled for Friday, has been postponed until late next week. On Friday, the Social Democrats withdrew the candidature of MP Lubomir Zaoralek who was the only nominee for the post. The Social Democrats say that they withdrew their candidate because they were not able to secure enough support for Mr. Zaoralek prior to the vote.
Around 90 right-wing activists attended a march through the eastern town of Svitavy on Saturday in protest against what they called miscarriage of justice in the trial of Vlastimil Pechanec who was sentenced to 17 years in prison for racially-motivated murder of a Romany man three years ago. The organisers of the march called for the reopening of his trial. No incident was reported.
The European Commission announced in Brussels on Friday that Italy has opened its labour market to citizens of the newest European Union member states, including the Czech Republic. Italy is the second country in quick succession to open its labour market to citizens of the new EU-member countries; Denmark also relaxed its requirements on July 1, 2006. Meanwhile, the closest neighbours of the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria, have not opened their labour markets to Czech citizens. Czechs can work without restrictions in Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Italy and Iceland.
According to a report by the European Railway Agency released on Friday, the safety of Czech railways meets the standards of other European countries. The results are a marked improvement over 2004, when the Czech Republic recorded many more railway accidents and ranked 11th out of 23 monitored EU member states. Although the Czech Republic's overall safety rating has improved, there remain a high number of suicides at railway crossings. In 2005 railway accidents claimed 254 lives and another 251 people were injured, these mostly the result of drivers who failed to observe traffic regulations at crossings.
The Social Democrats have withdrawn the candidacy of MP Lubomir Zaoralek
for the post of lower house chairman. As Mr. Zaoralek was the only nominee
for the post, the election, originally scheduled for Friday, has been
postponed until late next week. The Social Democrats say that they
withdrew their candidate because they were not able to secure enough
support for Mr. Zaoralek prior to the vote.
Meanwhile, the two largest Czech political parties, the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats, continue to try and negotiate a way out of the parliamentary deadlock. The Social Democrats, who came second in last month's election, have agreed to meet next week with coalition partners the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens to discuss policy priorities. Talks on the formation of a new government have been going on for some six weeks, since a national election resulted in a perfect split in the lower house of the Czech Parliament.
The Czech Foreign Ministry continues to warn Czech nationals in Lebanon to leave the country amid the continuing conflict between Israel and Lebanon. Czech citizens are being advised not to travel to Lebanon. A group of Czechs returned to Prague in the early hours of Friday, and another group is traveling to the Czech Republic via Syria and Cyprus. In addition to organizing these evacuations, the Czech government has decided to allocate 5 million crowns for humanitarian aid to Lebanon.
Police in the south Moravian region of Brno have seized 118 rare birds from a private collector in the small town of Ujezd. Among the animals were species listed as internationally endangered, and others which are protected by Czech law. The owner of the property faces up to three years in prison, or a monetary fine. The rescued birds have found temporary shelter at the Brno zoo.