Social Democrats at Prague City Hall have offered the mayoral seat to TOP 09 should they form a coalition together. Deputy Mayor and Social Democrat Karel Březina told reporters on Tuesday that his party’s aim would be preventing a right-wing coalition in City Hall, following the unexpected breakup of the city’s grand coalition on Monday evening. The Civic Democratic Party initiated the breakup, saying the current coalition’s policies would result in enormous debts for the capital. Social Democrats say the decision was the result of disputes within the Civic Democratic Party. TOP 09 was the overall winner of the last local elections, but was sidestepped by the other two parties which formed a coalition without them. TOP 09 says it will negotiate with both parties and demands the removal of certain, unnamed individuals from the economic and personnel sections.
President Václav Klaus has ratified part of the government’s health and welfare reform bills. The legislation had been rejected by the left-controlled Senate and was passed again in the lower house only after several days of filibustering by opposition parties. The health reforms cover a number of areas, for example allowing patients access to all of their medical records, regulating artificial insemination and banning human cloning and allowing paramedics to enter buildings without permission and demand the assistance of bystanders. The social welfare reforms include dole payments being made only by the Labour Office, and unemployment support will depend on the fulfilment of 20 hours’ a week community service for those unemployed for more than two months.
The prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Estonia say their countries’ business relations are good and could be even deeper. The Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, said after a meeting between the two that Estonia is an interesting country for Czech exporters particularly in the areas of energy, environmental protection and transport engineering. Estonian PM Andrus Ansip said he appreciated the work of the Czech jet pilots who protected Baltic airspace during 2009 and should do so again next year, though Mr Nečas reminded that there should be a certain degree of cost sharing on that NATO mission.
The Czech road authority and the construction company Eurovia are hotly debating responsibility for the defective surface of the Ostrava highway D47. According to the road authority, Eurovia used inappropriate base materials for the road, including pieces of wood, brick and PVC which caused the surface to bulge when it became damp. Eurovia claimed on Tuesday that the material was used based on the ordering information given by the roads authority and has threatened to sue the Transportation Ministry for damaging its name. It is not yet known when the damage to the road will be corrected.
Tuesday’s Mladá fronta Dnes daily quotes a number of experts who criticize the master’s thesis in psychology submitted and defended by Education Minister Josef Dobeš in 1994 at Masaryk University in Brno. The experts approached by the newspaper agreed that the thesis was “poor, shallow and should not have been accepted for defence”. Mr Dobeš’s thesis supervisor was Professor Vladimír Smékal, his current advisor at the ministry. Mr Dobeš has dismissed the criticism. In an interview for the same daily last week the Education Minister said that higher standards should be set for admission of students to universities.
The region of Moravia-Silesia has seen a marked decrease in its population over the last twenty years, the Czech Statistical Office has pointed out. Since 1991 some 40,000 inhabitants have moved out of the country’s easternmost region, primarily in search of jobs, bringing the population there down to 1.24 million. Nearly a third of those who left, moved out of the country altogether. Moreover, the trend seems to be increasing with a dramatic increase in emigration from the region since 2009. Formerly the most populous region in the Czech Republic, Moravia-Silesia now has the lowest population in its recorded history.
Social Democrat chairman Bohuslav Sobotka has announced he will step down as head of the party’s parliamentary club and put forwards deputy chairman Jeroným Tejc for the position. Mr Sobotka told Tuesday’s meeting of the club of MPs that he no longer wanted to hold both functions next year, as he will be concentrating on supporting Social Democrat candidates in regional elections.
The ex-wife of recently-resigned trade minister Martin Kocourek has authorised her lawyers to recover any money that may have been denied her in the couple’s divorce settlement. Neither she nor Mr Kocourek commented further on the matter. Kocourek resigned two weeks ago after failing to provide a legitimate explanation to why 16 million crowns had appeared on an account belonging to his mother. The trade minister’s defence was that the money was his and that he had “diverted” it to his mother in 2008 to protect it from his divorce settlement.
The town of Havlíčkův Brod has begun the first demolition of a panelák, or prefab residential building, for purely urbanistic reasons. The 18-apartment building will be removed from a central town square at a cost of 2.8 million crowns. The town council had been debating whether to remove the unpopular, 1982 structure for several years, because it obstructs passage into a historic alleyway that joins two squares. The communist-built panelák buildings are often deplored as ugly and shoddy, but nonetheless provide the country with more than 1.25 million residential spaces. Only about one third have been reconstructed to meet more modern standards.
The Supreme Court has definitively ruled that the Prague Zoo cannot use the well-known logo created for it by artist Michal Cihlář. The case has been in the courts since 2006, when Mr Cihlář sued the zoo for breach of contract on the grounds that he was not paid for the distribution of the logo as per the copyright law of the time. The easily-recognisable logo with its portrait of a Przewalski Horse was used by the zoo from 1998 until 2006 then the entire institution was rebranded. Przewalski Horses have appeared in its logo since the 1950s to highlight the zoo’s attempts to protect that breed. The decision cannot be appealed further.