November 11th, known as Remembrance Day in North America and most west European states, was marked by several ceremonies in the Czech Republic. In this country, the holiday is known as the Day for War Veterans. Formal celebrations began already on Friday, when the Czech minister of defense decorated several war veterans with medals at a ceremony in Prague Vitkov, where there is a memorial to war veterans. The Day for War Veterans - or Remembrance Day - marks the formal end of World War One in November 1918; WWI killed about ten million soldiers, and about twice as many civilians. Czechoslovakia, the predecessor state to the Czech Republic, appeared on the map of Europe for the first time as a result of the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which disappeared after WWI.
As government coalition negotiations led by Prime Minister and Civic
Democratic chairman Mirek Topolanek are underway, Saturday's edition of
the daily Lidove Noviny reports that a possible three-party arrangement
between the Civic Democrats, the Social Democrats, and the Christian
Democrats could be viable. Such a government could reportedly stay in
place until early elections in June 2008, or later. According to the
paper, Mr. Topolanek discussed such an option with the Christian
Democrats on Friday, although no one present at the meeting has
Mr. Topolanek is scheduled to meet with both the Social Democrats and the Green Party's representatives on Monday.
About 100 skinheads gathered in Hlucin, north Moravia, late Saturday afternoon to mark the 31st anniversary of the death of Spain's long-time Fascist leader, Francisco Franco. According to CTK, most of the demonstration's participants were in their mid-teens, some even younger. The demonstrators lit candles on the steps of the community center, and made a few short speeches. Police report that there were no violent clashes.
On Saturday morning leading Social Democratic Party members met to
discuss their preferred position regarding possible government
coalitions. After the meeting, Social Democratic chairman Jiri Paroubek
told reporters that his party still prefers a temporary minority Civic
Democratic government, or a grand coalition between the right-of-centre
Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats. Less attractive for the
Social Democrats is the possibility of a cabinet including the
Christian Democrats, though Mr. Paroubek said that if the Civic
Democrats justify such an offer adequately, he is willing to negotiate.
On Monday representatives of the Social Democrats' negotiating team will meet with members of the Civic Democratic Party, which has been asked to try and form a government again in the second round of government formation talks. Mr. Paroubek says that he anticipates Monday's meeting to include several different offers from the Civic Democrats.
The former Social Democratic Health Minister David Rath reportedly granted his closest co-workers bonuses of up to half a million crowns (nearly $23 000 US) before leaving his post. Mr. Rath distributed nearly 11 million crowns (over $501 000 US) in bonuses during the first half of 2006 to 27 of his closest associates. Saturday's edition of the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes writes that although Mr. Rath says the figure is reasonable, the Ministry of Health may have to increase its annual budget in order to pay-out the bonuses.
Czech football captain Tomas Rosicky has suffered a hamstring injury and will definitely be sidelined in Wednesday's upcoming friendly international against Denmark in Prague. Rosicky acquired the injury during training with Premier league club Arsenal on Thursday; according to Arsenal's website, the midfielder could be out for about 10 days. Tomas Rosicky is the third star Czech player to be hampered by injury this season; goalie Petr Cech and striker Jan Koller are also currently recovering from injuries.
A new poll released by Factum Invenio has suggested that if elections were held today they would be won by the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. According to the poll, the party would win 96 mandates in the 200-member parliament, enough to govern with any other party. The survey suggests that the Social Democrats would come in second, with 60 seats, and the Communists third with 25. The Christian Democrats and the Greens would gain 10 and 9 mandates respectively.
The Communist Party is reportedly at risk of paying millions of crowns in fines for withdrawing from a contract commissioning a new party headquarters in the Vysocany district in Prague. The project was to have been financed through the sale of the party's long term headquarters; but the party's executive committee earlier in the year decided against. According to earlier information, the new site was to have cost around 250 million crowns, the equivalent of around 11.5 million US dollars.
A new poll released by the STEM agency asking Czechs to rate contributions by Czech politicians over the last 16 years has rated Presidents Vaclav Havel,Vaclav Klaus, as well as the late culture minister, Pavel Dostal, highly. Mr Dostal lost his battle to cancer last year. Each of the three received more than 60 percent positive response from around 1,500 people queried. Politicians rated least favourably in the poll included former prime ministers Vladimir Spidla and Stanislav Gross.
Czech political parties are weighing a variety of options in government
negotiations being headed by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek's
right-of-centre Civic Democrats. On Friday Civic Democratic party
officials met with Christian Democrats to discuss a possible "rainbow
coalition" excluding only the Communists. The idea has already been
rejected by the Social Democrats.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party on Friday suggested that while it would prefer supporting a centre-left government, it would be willing to agree on an interim government including all parties, provided the cabinet's main aim would be to lead the country to early elections.
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