Prague's Lord Mayor Pavel Bem is likely to retain his post for a full term, that is, the next four years, after his party, the Civic Democrats (of which is also a deputy chairman) won a resounding victory in Prague in municipal elections at the weekend. In Prague, the Civic Democrats clinched more than 54 percent of the vote, and will hold 42 of 70 seats at city hall. The result means that the Civic Democrats could govern alone as a majority; nevertheless Mr Bem has not ruled out a broader coalition.
The Office for the Protection of Competition has approved state subsidies for Hyundai's planned car plant in northern Moravia. The information was released by a representative on Monday. According to Hyundai's contract with the Czech Republic, the company will be eligible to receive subsidies of up to 2.4 billion crowns - the equivalent of around 106 million US dollars. The plant - as well as up to fifteen suppliers - could then receive an additional 2.5 billion crowns towards creating new jobs and introducing re-qualification programmes for employees. According to the office the state subsidies are fully in-line with EU norms, but the subsidies will still need to be approved by the European Commission.
The winner of Radio Prague's annual radio competition, Dimitrij Balykin of Russia, has arrived for a week's stay in the Czech capital. Mr Balykin, along with several hundred others took part in the competition, but his entry on the topic of "Czech sounds" was judged the best by the jury. Mr Balykin wrote about the usefulness of audio in Prague's metro especially for the blind and poor-sighted. Mr Balykin himself is blind. His week in the capital will include visiting a number of key tourist sites, as well as sitting down for an interview with Radio Prague - the international service of Czech Radio.
To an extent, the local and Senate elections have been viewed as a
referendum on the inconclusive parliamentary elections in June which
prevented politicians from forming a stable government: Mirek
Topolanek's cabinet failed in a vote of confidence after just 30 days.
President Vaclav Klaus commented the results by saying they were an
indication of the mood in Czech society and that they signalled a
political solution to the country's drawn out crisis. He is expected to
name a new prime minister designate after the Senate elections
Meanwhile, acting Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told journalists on Monday that his party's success in the municipal and Senate elections is not likely to make negotiations on a new government any easier. But, he did suggest they could be a signal for political rivals, the Social Democrats. Mr Topolanek's Civic Democrats are pushing for early parliamentary elections as the only solution to the continuing political deadlock. The Social Democrats led by Jiri Paroubek have favoured forming a grand coalition. Negotiations on a new government are expected to resume soon.
Meanwhile, the possibility of the Civic Democrats gaining a constitutional majority in the Senate has shocked the centre-left Social Democrats. Party leader Jiri Paroubek has called for a coalition of all parties against the Civic Democrats in the second round of Senate elections in order to prevent what he termed "the onset of blue totalitarianism in the Czech Republic." The Christian Democrats and the Green Party have rejected the idea.
The former president Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar will be spending the next four months in the United States where Mr. Havel is expected to give several lectures. The Havels will attend a theatre festival of Mr. Havel's work and divide their time between New York and Washington. Vaclav Havel recently turned seventy.
The Speaker of the lower house Miloslav Vlcek said on Saturday the Social Democrats may file a complaint challenging the regularity of the elections because of the way the media reported on a corruption scandal surrounding people close to the Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek. Less than 48 hours before polling stations opened a former deputy minister for regional development who is charged with abusing EU structural funds told police investigators that the former Social Democrat prime minister Jiri Paroubek was involved in the fraudulent practices she was accused of. Mr. Vlcek said some journalists had reported on the case as if the Social Democrat leader were guilty. The Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has said he is not in favor of filing a complaint.
The centre right Civic Democrats likewise dominated the first round of elections to a third of the Senate. The party has advanced to the second round in 26 of the 27 constituencies contested. If it manages to win 22 Senate seats in the second round of elections the party would have a constitutional majority in the upper chamber. Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek has called on voters to go to the polls in the second round of elections to the Senate. No candidate managed to gain more than 50 percent of the votes and win a seat in the first round of the Senate elections.
President Klaus told journalists that he had done his utmost to promote Prague as the seat of the Galileo European Navigation system at Friday's informal EU summit in Finland. I do not like lobbying but I feel I may have scored a point, Mr. Klaus told reporters on his return. The Galileo European Navigation System is a joint initiative of the European Commission and European Space Agency. It should be launched sometime in 2008 and eleven states have made a bid to host it.
The local and Senate elections are widely seen as a referendum on the inconclusive June general elections which have prevented politicians from forming a stable government. President Klaus said the election results were an indication of the mood in Czech society and signaled a political solution to the country's drawn out crisis. Mr. Klaus, who has been holding talks with party leaders in order to ascertain their position on a future government set up, has made it clear that he would not name a new prime minister designate until after the second round of Senate elections next week.