The Civic Democrats will most probably gain a second chance to form a new
government. President Vaclav Klaus will ask the party that won most votes
in the municipal and Senate elections to decide who should be entrusted
with the task, the president's secretary Ladislav Jakl said on Sunday. The
first attempt at forming a new government since the June elections ended in
deadlock failed as the minority government of Civic Democrat leader Mirek
Topolanek was unable to gain a vote of confidence in Parliament.
In a Czech TV discussion programme with the chairmen of all five parliamentary parties, Mr Topolanek said he favoured a caretaker government that would lead the country into early elections - preferably in May or June. Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek opposed the idea of early polls and said a grand coalition between his party and the Civic Democrats is the most stable way out of deadlock.
Twenty-two personalities have been awarded with state honours and
medals for bravery. The state distinctions were presented by President
Vaclav Klaus at a traditional ceremony at Prague Castle, which is held
every year on October 28 - the anniversary of the foundation of an
independent Czechoslovak state in 1918. The Order of the White Lion,
the country's highest state honour, was given to WWII veterans Antonin
Spacek and Josef Bryks, who died in 1956 and was given the distinction
Among the others who received state distinctions were cross-country skier Katerina Neumannova, Chairwoman of the Confederation of Political Prisoners Nadezda Kavalirova, football legend Josef Masopust, and actress Iva Janzurova.
As has become tradition for every seated Czech head of state, President
Vaclav Klaus marked October 28th with several events. At Lany, near
Prague, Mr Klaus laid a wreath at the grave of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk,
the founder and first president of Czechoslovakia. The Czech President
also received foreign diplomats.
At a ceremony at Prague Castle on Saturday evening, President Klaus will award state honours and medals of bravery to over twenty personalities. Though it has not been revealed who will receive the state distinctions, it is believed that they will include cross-country skier Katerina Neumannova, Chairwoman of the Confederation of Political Prisoners Nadezda Kavalirova, football legend Josef Masopust, and actress Iva Janzurova.
The Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats have enough seats in
Parliament to change the constitution if they were to join forces. The
two parties have 53 of the 81 seats in the Senate and 155 of the 200
seats in the Chamber of Deputies. In order to amend the constitution,
they will not have to depend on a single vote from the smaller parties.
Together with the Christian Democrats, the Civic Democrats have 52 of the 81 seats in the Senate.
Police arrested three members of the Vlastenecka Fronta, or Patriotic
Front, for propagating Nazism during a gathering in Prague on Saturday.
The extreme-right grouping marked the foundation of Czechoslovakia with
their traditional march from Prague's Palacky Square, named after
nineteenth century historian and politician Frantisek Palacky (often
called the Father of the Czech Nation), to Vysehrad Castle.
Five members of the extreme-right Nationalist Party, including their leader Petra Edelmannova, have also been detained. In an attempt to attract people to a gathering at Prague's Wenceslas Square on Saturday, party members distributed flyers with caricatures of Muslim figures under the caption "Let's Burn Hatred".
At the traditional October 28th ceremony at the national memorial on
Prague's Vitkov Hill, a minute of silence was held to commemorate those
who fell in battle and wreaths were laid at the memorial of Hussite
warrior Jan Zizka. Besides hundreds of spectators, the event was
attended by senior politicians like the president, prime minister,
defence minister, and Senate chairman, as well as the Army's
chief-of-staff, and members of the Czechoslovak Union of Freedom
A separate ceremony was also held in Prague's National Museum on Saturday, organised annually by the Czechoslovak Union of Freedom Fighters and the Union of Czechoslovak Legions.
Some 500 soldiers who are joining the country's professional army pledged their allegiance at Prague Castle on Saturday. The soldiers, among them several dozen women, made their pledges in front of President Klaus, Defence Minister Jiri Sedivy, Chief-of-Staff General Pavel Stefka and members of their families. President Klaus also named five new generals and general Stefka named 19 new colonels.