Jiri Paroubek, chairman of the Social Democrats, held a press conference
on Monday morning to clarify interpretations based on his appearance on
Sunday's TV talk show program hosted by Vaclav Moravec. Mr. Paroubek says
that he did not offer the Civic Democrats a grand coalition arrangement
during the TV debate, as was widely reported by the media. Mr. Paroubek
said that he views the possibility of a grand coalition as one of four
possible options for resolving the government vacuum in place since the
June elections resulted in a political deadlock. The other options listed
by the Mr. Paroubek include a coalition government composed of the Social
Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens, which would need to
rely on support from the Communist Party in order to count on at least 101
seats in the lower house; and a caretaker government; or a Social
Democratic minority government. In Sunday's TV debate, Mr. Paroubek said
that he would not have a role to play in the case of a grand coalition
between the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats.
The Civic Democrats have dismissed the possibility of a grand coalition with the Social Democrats. Mirek Topolanek, the Civic Democratic leader and his deputies met with President Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle Monday afternoon; Mr. Klaus told the press that he is also opposed to a grand coalition.
A Prague district court has decided to remand former deputy local development minister, Vera Jourova, in custody. Ms Jourova has been accused in a case of suspected corruption in the handling of EU structural funds channelled via the Local Development Ministry. Ms Jourova was arrested shortly after her plane landed at Prague-Ruzyne airport on Friday afternoon. Besides Vera Jourova, three men have been accused of corruption in the same case. They are Zdenek Dolezel, a former senior aide to two former Social Democrat prime ministers, Ladislav Peta, mayor of the town of Budisov, and Miloslav Rehulka, an Agriculture Ministry employee. All three have been in custody since Friday.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek also said that a proposed US anti-missile defence site will most probably not be built in the Czech Republic. Speaking on Czech TV on Sunday, Mr Topolanek said that a radar site might be built in the country instead. The United States plans to build a base in Central Europe which would house defensive missiles, and be under the administrative control of the United States. US military experts have visited potential locations in the Czech Republic and Poland.
Chelsea's goalkeeper Petr Cech has undergone surgery for a depressed fracture of the skull after he was knocked unconscious in the champions' 1-0 win at Reading on Saturday. The 24-year-old Czech keeper Cech was caught by a challenge from Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt in the first minute 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".
Social Democrat leader and former Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has admitted that his party and the Civic Democrats could start discussing a grand coalition but he said he himself would not take part in it. Speaking in a lunchtime discussion programme on Czech Television on Sunday, Mr Paroubek said he would only remain chairman of the Social Democratic Party. Prime Minister and head of the Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek dismissed such an option.
A new poll by the STEM agency suggests that over 50 percent of Czechs are planning to cast their votes in the upcoming Senate elections next Friday and Saturday, while up to 70 percent are planning to take part in the local elections on the same days. A different poll by the Factum Invenio agency suggests over 50 percent of Czechs believe that the Senate, the upper house of the Czech Parliament, is a useless institution and should be abolished. The trend has been visible ever since 1996 when the Senate was established but the number of those believing that it is a useful and beneficial institution has slightly increased.
A Prague court on Friday remanded in custody a senior aide to two former Social Democrat prime ministers on charges of pocketing EU funds and blackmail. The charges against Zdenek Dolezel and also Ladislav Peta, mayor of the town of Budisov, and Miloslav Rehulka, an Agriculture Ministry employee, were brought on Wednesday. The three men were accused of having siphoned off tens of millions of Czech crowns of EU and state funds from a project to renovate Budisov castle. They are also accused of blackmailing a Czech architect, Marek Ricar, who alerted police to the alleged fraud. According to media reports, the three were preparing to hire a killer to assassinate Jan Kubice, head of the special police squad for uncovering organised crime. Mr. Rehulka was also taken into custody while Mr. Peta was taken to a hospital for medical attention; his lawyer told reporters that Mr. Peta has cancer, and was due to start treatment in hospital on Friday.
A new poll by the Factum Invenio agency suggests over 50 percent of Czechs believe that the Senate, the upper house of the Czech Parliament, is quite a useless institution and should be abolished. The trend has been visible ever since 1996 when the Senate was established. However, the number of those believing that it is a useful and beneficial institution has slightly increased. The first round of Senate elections in one third of the constituencies will be held next weekend.
In the same case, police on Friday charged former deputy local development minister Vera Jourova with corruption. Ms Jourova was arrested shortly after her plane landed at Prague-Ruzyne airport on Friday afternoon. Ms Jourova was a member of the Social Democratic Party for three years. She voluntarily ended her membership on June 5 after she left the post of deputy local development minister. According to former PM and party chairman Jiri Paroubek, Jourova used her membership as a "lift" for her career.