Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek says a grand coalition between his
party and the Civic Democrats would be the most secure way out of
political deadlock as it would enjoy the highest support in the lower
house of parliament. A caretaker government that would lead the country
into early elections would be the weakest option and therefore the
least preferred by his party, Mr Paroubek said. Mr Paroubek says there
are two other options for resolving the government vacuum in place
since the June elections. They are a minority government of the Social
Democrats and a coalition government composed of his party, the
Christian Democrats and the Greens. Both types of government, though,
would lack a majority in the 200-seat lower house.
Mr Paroubek's Social Democrats are expected to meet with President Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle on Wednesday.
The outgoing Civic Democrat Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Petr
Necas, has accused the ministry of commissioning projects to selected
firms without a public tender. The projects were worth 3 billion crowns
(close to 133 million US dollars) and were commissioned in January 2005
at the latest, Mr Necas told reporters on Tuesday. Several ministry
officials are already being investigated on suspicion of corruption.
Minister Necas' predecessor Social Democrat Zdenek Skromach has denied the allegations and says they are an attempt to discredit his party just days before the local and senatorial elections.
The coalition of the Association of Independent Candidates and European Democrats (SNK-ED) said on Tuesday that a number of officials at the finance ministry were guilty of corruption. Earlier this year, a court ruled that the finance ministry was to pay the SNK-ED 15 million crowns (around 660,000 US dollars) in campaign contributions. The party says it was told by finance ministry officials that it would get the money if it agrees to give 3 of the 15 million crowns to a person who can ensure that the payment is made. Though Finance Minister Vlastimil Tlusty is not suspected of being involved, the SNK-ED says the officials it dealt with were people he closely works with.
The tight security measures that were put in place in Prague over three weeks ago are to be relaxed. Following a meeting with the Security Council on Tuesday, outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said there is no more reason to believe that the country still faces a terrorist threat. The authorities never revealed why Prague was put on high security alert. According to Mlada fronta Dnes newspaper, the secret police were informed about a plan to take Jewish visitors to a Prague synagogue hostage and then kill them.
The outgoing Civic Democrat cabinet of Mirek Topolanek proposes to sign pre contracts with pharmaceutical companies to guarantee the supply of 60 percent of the flu vaccines for next year. The proposal is part of the government's flu pandemic plan, which was approved by the Security Council on Tuesday. The aim is to have enough vaccines in supply by the end of the first quarter of 2007 to protect one fifth of the population against the threat of a flu pandemic.
An Interior Ministry team of inspectors has proposed to bring three criminal charges against the head of the Czech Police's organised crime department. Jan Kubice and two of his subordinates are suspected of abuse of power, slander, and the unauthorised handling of private data. The charges are linked to an investigation into how a classified report that was drawn up by Mr Kubice got into the hands of the media. The document on the links between organised crime and political parties was leaked to the public just days before the general elections in June.
The Czech Republic's best-known beer producer, Pilsner Urquell, has announced that it will raise prices as of November. The west Bohemian-based brewery, located in the city of Plzen, made the announcement citing rising costs of barley, energy, and packaging materials. A half-liter of Pilsner will go up in price by 1.40 Czech crowns; the current cost is 16.50 Kc.
Petr Cech, the goalkeeper for London's Chelsea, could stay away from the football field for as long as six months. The 24-year Czech goalie suffered a head injury during Saturday's play in the Premier League, and had to undergo surgery for a depressed fracture of the skull in a London hospital. Petr Cech was caught by a challenge from Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt in the first minute of play and was carried off. Coach Jose Mourinho said he thought Cech was lucky to be alive after being caught in the head by Hunt's knee, branding the Reading man's challenge "a disgrace". Petr Cech is now recovering in hospital and experts say that an early return to the field would leave Cech risking "repetitive injury syndrome," and would also leave him vulnerable to the risk of internal bleeding if he suffered an injury before recovering fully from Saturday's accident.
In related news, the Social Democratic leader Jiri Paroubek has called
on the smaller parties in the lower house, the Christian Democrats and
the Greens, to publicly explain exactly how relying on the support of
the Communist Party to bolster a coalition of Social Democrats,
Christians Democrats and Greens is dangerous. Mr. Paroubek said that if
the smaller parties do not provide concrete reasons for refusing to
collaborate with the Communist Party, they are then "giving priority to
unproductive anticommunism, rather than to fulfilling their own
Both the Christian Democrats and the Greens made public statements on Monday, confirming that they have no intention of participating in a coalition government that would be dependent on the votes of Communist Party MPs. The coalition of Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, and Greens that Mr. Paroubek is proposing would depend on support from the Communist Party in order to survive a vote of confidence.
A new poll released by the Factum Invenio agency suggests that if early elections were held, the Civic Democrats would win with 35.9% of votes, and the Social Democrats would secure 27.2% of votes. The poll's findings indicate that the Communist Party would place third with 13.9%, the Greens would get 8.4%, and the Christian Democrats 6.9%. Thus according to these results, the Social Democratic Party has decreased in popularity since the June elections, while the Greens have improved their ratings.