Czech police, investigating whether an attendee at a skinhead concert near the south Bohemian town of Tabor on Saturday broke the law by doing the Hitler salute, have come under criticism from the human rights group Tolerance as well as Czech Senator Jaromir Stetina. The non-government organisation and the senator have said that police should have intervened to prevent neo-Nazis from gathering. A Tolerance representative has said that while lyrics sung at the concert were not explicitly racist, they contained a racist subtext. Around 250 skinheads attended the site on Saturday, while some 150 police were on hand monitoring. Officers reportedly intervened only occasionally to check attendees' identities but say they did not witness any breaking of the law. They were not asked, for example, by the town to step in.
Delegates on the 2nd day of the Civic Democratic Party's weekend congress have ruled out the possibility of a 'grand' coalition or 'tolerance' pact between their party and the Social Democrats. The decision was taken early Sunday evening. Delegates did not address a proposal to ban cooperation between the Civic Democratic Party and the Social Democrats altogether.
Speaking on a Sunday TV news programme the leader of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek has said he thought the Czech Republic could have a new stable government by early December. Mr Paroubek said he favoured his party participating in a yet-to-be negotiated government led by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, but said that he himself would not seek a cabinet post. By contrast, on Sunday Mr Topolanek told public broadcaster Czech TV that he would not predict when the new government would be formed, but said that he will keep President Vaclav Klaus informed on the latest developments. The newly re-elected Civic Democrat chairman has asked his party to give him a mandate ruling out exclusive cooperation with the Social Democrats and is looking for a solution involving one to four parties, in other words all the non-communist parties in parliament.
The right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party has seen the first day of its
two day party congress in the Czech capital. Prime Minister designate
Mirek Toplanek - the party's chairman - is looking for a strong mandate
from his party towards putting together an interim coalition government,
one that would include the four non-communist parties including the
Christian and Social Democrats and the Greens. Mr Topolanek stated on
Saturday that if the idea did not get strong backing, he would again
propose the current outgoing cabinet to the president, despite the fact it
failed in an earlier confidence vote.
Politicians including Mr Topolanek - now twice prime minister designate - have been trying to form a viable government since elections ended in stalemate in June.
The acting chairman of the Christian Democratic Party, Jan Kasal, has reiterated that his party will not support or tolerate any Social Democrat government leaning on support from the Communists. On Saturday, speaking as a guest at the Civic Democrats' party congress, Mr Kasal said the possibility of such a government was "a real danger". Politicians are now in a 2nd round of talks on forming a new government, but if the new cabinet does not find support in a confidence vote, it would likely mean that the Social Democrats, who came in second in the national election, would get the third and final chance. As it stands, the lower house is equally divided along right and left of the political spectrum, but the Social Democrats' Jiri Paroubek has in the past suggested that in the case of a confidence vote for "his" government he would find the necessary support.
In related news, the Civic Democratic Party's honorary chairman,
President Vaclav Klaus, has indirectly expressed support for a
compromise solution to the stalemate, suggesting on Saturday that it
was time the Civic Democratic Party - which dominated elections in 2006
- translated election results into a functioning government.
Party chairman Mirek Topolanek may still face additional criticism from some at the weekend: a number of Civic Democrat delegates are upset that he dropped an earlier demand for early elections in 2007 and opted for a compromise solution including the Social Democrats. It could impact the type of mandate on forming a new government the prime minister will get.
Cross-country skier Katerina Neumannova has crushed a field of world-class racers in the ten-kilometre freestyle on the World Cup circuit in Gaellivare, Sweden. Neumannova, a gold medallist from this year's winter Olympics, finished far ahead of Estonia's Kristina Smigun, 24.19 seconds behind. The 10 km freestyle is said to be Neummanova's favourite race.
On the eve of the anniversary, a memorial plaque was unveiled on Prague's Albertov street where the peaceful demonstration, which kicked off the Velvet Revolution, started on November 17, 1989. The march which turned into a protest demanding democratic reforms was stopped by riot police and many people were injured. The plaque revealed on Thursday bears the words "Who if not us, when if not now" - one of the slogans of the 1989 Velvet Revolution.
The Prague organisation of the Civic Democratic Party has come out in favour of PM-designate Mirek Topolanek remaining party chairman ahead of the weekend party congress. Mr Topolanek has been supported by all regional chapters of the party. He wants to gain a clear mandate for negotiating about an interim government based on the agreement of four non-communist parties. The Prague organisation also proposed Prague Mayor Pavel Bem for first deputy chairman. He will be competing for the post with Petr Necas, the current deputy party chief.