In line with Czech law it will now be up to the president to appoint a new prime minister designate who will be entrusted with the task of forming a new cabinet. The country's inconclusive June general elections produced an even division of forces between the right and left parties in the lower house which resulted in a drawn-out political crisis. It would appear that neither of the two strongest parties on the Czech political scene - the Civic or Social Democrats - are in a position to form a new government with the smaller parties in Parliament. Political analysts have not yet entirely ruled out a grand coalition or a caretaker-type government made up of experts. The president is free to pick whoever appears to have the biggest chance of forming a new cabinet.
During its short term in office, the Civic Democrat government abolished one ministry, two government councils and merged other institutions in order to economize. The IT Ministry was abolished at the outset and its agenda was taken over by the Interior Ministry. The head of the Office of the government Jan Novak recently abolished the Council for Human Resources and is currently transferring tasks to individual ministries. Not all cost-cutting measures have been well received. Svatopluk Karasek who was recently dismissed as the government's Human Rights Commissioner said the reduction of staff in his office was tantamount to a closure. The office currently has 500 employees.
The minority Civic Democrat government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has not survived a vote of confidence in the lower house. In the 200 member lower house ninety-nine deputies voted against the government, ninety-six voted in favor and five were not present. Prime Minister Topolanek said his cabinet would most likely resign in one week from now at its session on Wednesday October 11th. He said his party would continue to push for early elections.
The Czech Republic will have to pay the EU a 150 million crown fine ( 5,13 million euros) for exceeding the annual milk quota set by the EC. A spokesman for the European Commission said Czech dairy farmers had exceeded the limit by 17,000 tons. Eight other EU countries will have to pay similar penalties - altogether to the tune of 377 million euros.
The results of a poll conducted by the STEM polling agency suggest that three out of four Czechs have a negative attitude towards Islam. The poll published in Tuesday's edition of Hospodarske Noviny indicates that more than half of all Czechs fear possible terrorist attacks by Islamic terrorists and are afraid of a potential conflict between Western and Muslim civilizations. At the same time, the poll shows that Czechs have scant knowledge about the Islamic faith itself.
The minority cabinet of Civic Democrat Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek will ask the lower house of parliament for confidence on Tuesday, three months after the June general elections which produced a perfect split between the rightist and leftist blocs in the lower chamber. Both former PM Jiri Paroubek's Social Democrats and the Communists have pledged to reject the government in the vote. Owing to that the chances of Mirek Topolanek's cabinet receiving confidence from the chamber are slim. If it loses the vote, the cabinet will have to resign. In such a case, a new prime minister appointed by President Vaclav Klaus would put together a new cabinet which would again need to seek a majority support in the lower house.
Police statistics state that the past weekend was thus far the most tragic one on Czech roads this year. A total of 16 people died in car accidents across the country on Saturday and Sunday. The month of September saw 90 people killed in automobile accidents; thus far September and June share the record for the most tragic months of the year. A total of 672 people were killed on Czech roads during the first nine months of the year. A marked drop in the number of fatal accident was recorded in July after a new and stricter traffic law came into force, however the figures started rising again in August.
The Czech state-run carrier Czech Airlines has said it will sell its catering service and a cargo terminal at the Prague Ruzyne international airport. The move is part of recently launched cost-cutting measures, the airline said in a statement. The company said it hopes to receive offers from possible buyers this year and to choose the winning bidder in February 2007. Czech Airlines posted a net loss of 773 million crowns (34.54 million USD; 27.28 million euros) in the first half of the year. Last month the struggling state-controlled carrier asked its main shareholder, the finance ministry, for a cash injection of about 2 billion crowns but denied speculation of impending bankruptcy.
Former Health Minister David Rath has said that one deputy for the Social Democrats may not be present for health reasons at Tuesday's crucial confidence vote in the minority government of Civic Democrat Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Her absence could seriously affect the vote as the opposition leftist bloc has exactly the same number of MPs in the chamber as the centre-right parties. However, Prime Minister Topolanek said on Monday he himself would not take part in the vote if an opposition MP should be absent for reasons of ill health.
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel has been selected for this year's Gandhi Peace Prize for upholding human rights and world peace, the Indian Catholic wrote on Monday. The decision was taken by a five-member jury chaired by India's Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and including the opposition leader Sonia Gandhi, the Chief Justice of India, a former president and former prime minister. The prize is awarded every year for outstanding work and contribution to social, economic and political transformation through non-violence and other Gandhian methods. The former Czech president, playwright, and human rights activist will celebrate his 70th birthday on Thursday.