The leading Civic Democratic candidate for the post of minister of
finance, Vlastimil Tlusty, has announced that in addition to early
elections, his party intends to prepare several reform proposals. The
Civic Democrats plan to present concrete pension and tax reform proposals
to the other parties during negotiations over support for a Civic
Democratic minority cabinet. Mr. Tlusty told reporters that the other
parties will likely "ruin everything" but that the Civic
Democrats must try to gain support for the reforms.
Meanwhile, the Social Democrat leader and outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek says that he expects to be entrusted with the task of forming a new government in October, since he does not believe that a minority Civic Democrat government can win a confidence vote in the lower house. Mr. Paroubek told reporters that in the coming weeks his party will stay in opposition, prepare for local and Senate elections and refrain from any negotiations on a future government.
The leader of the Party of European Democrats (SNK-ED), Jana Hybaskova, announced on Wednesday that her party wants to launch a constitutional appeal in order to remove the Social Democrats from power because they do not respect court rulings and endanger democracy. Ms. Hybaskova made the statements at a press conference where she aired the grievances of the European Democrats, who are owed about 15 million crowns ($681 000 USD) according to a May court ruling. The dispute over the money for campaign contributions dates back to 2002, when the European Democrats ran as an association, rather than as a party or registered coalition; it is on this count that the Ministry of Finance has refused to make the payment, despite the court ruling in favour of the European Democrats. Ms. Hybaskova says that her party was left shortchanged during the recent June 2006 elections, when it could have used this money during the campaign.
The outgoing Social Democratic cabinet passed an amendment to consumer tax rates on Wednesday. Tobacco products will be affected, with the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes costing about 15 crowns more as of 1 January 2007. The new law must still be passed by the lower house and the Senate, and signed by the President in order to become effective. Despite the rising costs of tobacco products in the Czech Republic, sales are not dropping; in 2004 a total of 22.7 million cigarette packets were sold, and in 2005 that number rose to 23.5 million.
Louis Vuitton may back out of plans to hold a private party on Prague's famous Charles Bridge after the city council put its foot down about closing the bridge to the public. The news that the bridge would be closed to the public for two days because it had been leased to Louis Vuitton for a private party and fashion event has provoked criticism from all sides. It appears that the mayor of Prague 1 Vladimir Vihan approved the plan without consulting the other city councilors, on the grounds that it would be good publicity for the Czech capital. The mayor of Prague Pavel Bem has now moved to correct the decision, saying that Charles Bridge should not be closed to the public even for an hour and laying down strict conditions under which the fashion event can take place. The city hall has also offered Louis Vuitton alternative locations where it would be far less restricted.
A regional court has acquitted Bohumil Kulinsky, former choirmaster of Bambini di Praga, of sexually abusing two teenage choir girls. Kulinsky was acquitted in these two particular cases for lack of evidence. However he has been charged with abusing 47 young girls in all over a period of twenty years. If found guilty, Kulinsky could spend up to 12 years in jail.
The Civic Democratic Party, which won the largest share of the votes in June's general elections, says a minority cabinet with a restricted agenda which would prepare the country for early elections in 2007 is the best way out of the current political stalemate. The Civic Democrats are seeking support for such a cabinet from both the Green Party and the Christian Democrats. Negotiations with the Social Democrats look uncertain. Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has put an embargo on talks with the Civic Democrats until the confidence vote in Parliament, saying his party members would not so much as respond to a phone call from the rival party. Prime Minister designate Mirek Topolanek has until the end of this week to produce a new cabinet and if it is appointed by the president he must ask Parliament for a vote of confidence within 30 days.
Social Democrat leader and outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said on Tuesday that he expects to be entrusted with the task of forming a new government in October, since he does not believe that a minority Civic Democrat government can win a confidence vote in the lower house. He said that in the coming weeks his party would go into the opposition, prepare for local and Senate elections and refrain from any negotiations on a future government.
A Czech online news server claims that the radar which could be built in the Czech Republic within a projected US missile base in central Europe could jam TV, radio and mobile phone signals. Citing a military specialist, the iDnes server writes that the XBR radar is the size of a small space station and would be the only one of its kind in Europe. The specialist suggests that given the country's relatively small size the radar could also prove to be a threat to air transport. Available surveys suggest that most Czechs are opposed to the idea of having a US missile base on Czech territory and politicians are debating the possibility of holding a referendum on the issue, should the US make an official request.