Mr. Cunek's election to the post of chairman has divided the Christian Democrats, some of whom see him as a highly controversial figure. The new party leader has fought off accusations of racism in recent weeks after evicting several hundred Roma rent-defaulters from the centre of Vsetin. However Jiri Cunek's supporters vastly outnumber his critics and they expect his election to give the party new impetus and possibly take it in a new direction. Many see him as a decisive and pragmatic politician who will boost the party's flagging credit ratings.
The Czech foreign minister Alexanader Vondra wants to appeal to the EU to show greater benevolence to Serbia and Turkey. At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday the Czech delegation is planning to stress the need for Serbia to receive a positive signal from the EU ahead of its parliamentary elections in January. "Serbia should know that Europe has not abandoned it and that the EU supports the democratic forces in the country" the Czech foreign ministry's spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalova told the CTK news agency. Brussels broke off accession talks with the Serb Republic for allegedly not doing enough to apprehend war criminals.
The newly elected leader of the Christian Democratic Party Jiri Cunek says he wants a coalition government which would include the Social Democrats. Mr. Cunek said he would have preferred a four-party coalition involving the Greens but since that no longer seemed possible he would push for a deal with the Civic and Social Democrats. "The agreement on a future government must receive backing from the entire Social Democratic Party, not just rely on a number of turn-coats," Mr. Cunek told journalists.
Overall, politicians from rival parties have welcomed Mr. Cunek's election to the post of chairman. Pavel Bem, deputy chairman of the Civic Democrats, said he saw this as a step in the right direction. Zdenek Skromach, deputy chairman of the Social Democrats said Mr. Cunek's election was good news above all for the Christian Democrats since it would give the party a chance to recover from its slump. And Communist Party leader Vojtech Filip is hoping that Mr. Cunek's pragmatic attitude may help the Christian Democrats overcome their long-standing aversion towards the Communist Party. Political analysts are careful in their predictions but several have expressed the belief that Mr. Cunek's election could improve the party's ties with the Social Democrats.
Aneta Langerova has been voted singer of the year in the Czech Nightingale Awards held on Saturday night. Langerova, the winner of the Czech Republic's first ever pop idol, defended last years title of best woman singer, beating Lucie Bila who was top of the ladder for several year in a row. In addition to that the young Langerova received the overall Czech Nightingale award - as singer of the year - a title that usually goes to the Czech singing legend Karel Gott. Mr. Gott received the best male singer award. Lucie Bila who came second in the women's category said she would work so hard next year she would make sparks fly.
Talks on forming a new coalition government continue without the Green Party which announced its decision to withdraw from the talks on Friday because their programme priorities were allegedly not being taken into account. According to a press report released by the Social Democrats the three remaining parties - the Civic Democrats, Social Democrats and the Greens - are now discussing reforms in the areas of health care and security.
A fifth of Czechs believe that only men should have the privilege of higher education. A poll conducted by the CVVM agency indicates that 18 percent of Czechs, mainly older people, still believe in the male-female division of labour according to which the man is the breadwinner and the woman's place is in the home. Despite this surprising outcome, the number of women graduating from Czech universities is on par with that of male graduates and the vast majority of Czech women work.
The Christian Democratic Party, the fourth biggest party in the lower house, elected a new leadership at its party conference in Brno on Saturday. The party's new chairman is senator Jiri Cunek, a politician whose name made headlines nationwide when as mayor of Vsetin he evicted several hundred Romany rent defaulters from the town centre in mid-October. A Roma organization is pressing charges of racism against him and some two dozen Romanies turned up to protest against his election outside the Brno conference hall. On the other hand there are many who praise senator Cunek for the decisive manner in which he dealt with rent-defaulters and observers say this may have helped him win a seat in the senate. Senator Cunek has called for party reform and his election to the post of chairman is expected to give the party a new direction.
There has been speculation as to the position of Jiri Paroubek, leader of the Social Democrats, following Thursday's announcement that another party deputy wanted to leave the deputies group in parliament. This would undermine the party's position in government talks. In recent weeks there have been signals that the party is divided over whether it should go into the opposition of fight for a place in government. There has even been speculation that the former party boss Milos Zeman, who is no longer active in politics, has been trying to organize a putsch against the current Social Democrat leader. Mr. Zeman has rejected the idea as nonsensical.
The mother of a three year old boy who was killed when he fell out of a moving train earlier this year was found guilty of negligence. She received a one year suspended sentence in view of the fact that she is bringing up another underage child. The woman sent the little boy to the toilet unattended while she was tending to her daughter.
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