The daily Právo reports that the police may close at least a quarter of their stations and investigate crimes less as a result of planned government cuts. Based on a risk analysis that the paper claims to possess, the police will have to dismiss up to ten thousand officers, or a quarter of the force, between 2013 and 2014. The analysis goes on to state that the police would be forced into a defensive strategy and would simply document crimes more often, rather than actively investigating them, and warns of a subsequent rise in crime. The government’s current plan calls for cutting the police budget by some four billion crowns next year and by two and a half billion more in 2014.
The Education Ministry failed to create any basic requirements for assessing whether state leaving exams met their objectives, the Supreme Audit Office has reported. The report, published on Monday, also says that the central authority responsible for preparing the exams concluded contracts for exam assessment systems without knowing their final cost, thus wasting large amounts of money. Moreover, the office found that the technical infrastructure for the exams has only been paid for until 2014, meaning the continuation of the exams past that point will require further expenses. The Education Ministry expended 917 million crowns on introducing the exams, roughly a third of which came from EU funds.
The confederation of trade unions has called for a demonstration in Prague on April 21 to protest government cuts and austerity measures. The umbrella organisation’s complaints focus on measures such as increased VAT, slowing pension growth, and the dismissal of public sector employees. School sector unions will likely also protest. The unions are calling on like-minded initiatives to join the demonstration, which is to take place at Prague’s Wenceslaus Square, and have not ruled out strikes and other means of pressuring the government. Union demonstrations against reforms last May drew some 40,000 people and preceded a mass transport sector strike.
An estimated six hundred people have gathered in Prague’s Lesser Quarter, continuing the protests against the government that have marked recent days. The event is organised by several different initiatives and civic associations, namely ProAlt, Ne základnám and Alternativa zdola. Another group led by Social Democrat chairman Bohuslav Sobotka joined the protesters. The protests are also supported by union leaders and the Communist Party. The leaders of the protest say the current centre-right, three-party coalition is the worst government in the country’s post-revolution history marked by ubiquitous corruption and connections between business and politics.
Education Minister Josef Dobeš has deferred a decision on whether to admit students to the troubled Plzeň law school until next week. Having taken the contentious step of renewing the school’s accreditation until 2016 against the determination of the accreditation committee, Mr Dobeš was originally to give a decision on whether the school would accept new students on Monday, but decided to make use of a fifteen-day legal deadline. The education minister has been severely criticised and even had charges filed against him for overturning the committee’s decision, which was based on insufficient personnel and poor results. He argues that the decision was in the interest of the 1,800 students who would have to complete their studies elsewhere.
A conference on the importance of Václav Havel to modern history has begun in Prague. The one-day event, organised by the Institute of Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences, is meant to examine and discuss Mr Havel’s impact as a publicly involved intellectual and will not deal with his literary works. Experts at the conference will attempt to agree on a factual and unbiased formulation of what the former president and human rights leader meant for Czech society and its history. Václav Havel died in mid-December at the age of 75.
Opposition parties will attempt to pass a vote of no confidence in the government on Tuesday in the third such attempt since the centre-right coalition took power in mid-2010. Opposition parties will attempt to pass a vote of no confidence in the government on Tuesday in the third such attempt since the centre-right coalition took power in mid-2010. The senior coalition party has called the move an empty populist gesture. The opposition has little chance of success, however, as the coalition has a strong majority and has said it will withstand the vote.
Czechs’ confidence in the European Union is at its lowest point since 1994, according to the results of a new poll conducted by the STEM agency. Confidence in the European Parliament reached the same historic low, with around a third of respondents saying they trusted the bodies. According to data from STEM, faith in the European Union was at its highest in the Czech Republic in the years 1999 and 2000, when 62% responded favourably. The percentage has been in consistent decline since 2010. Both the EU and the EP tended to be supported by younger, more educated and more wealthy respondents who were most often voters of the Civic Democrat or TOP 09 parties.
A sinkhole opened up under a parked car in a Prague residential district on Monday morning, leaving a five-metre hole and the vehicle 2.5 metres beneath the surface of the road. No one was injured. The sedan apparently fell through the road surface when night-time rain washed the soil under it out into a nearby ditch. Firemen hauled the vehicle out of the hole with lifting equipment and are checking the area for further ground disturbances.
A tragic accident occurred on the Czech D5 highway near Rokycany in the night from Sunday to Monday, when a van crashed into a truck that was driving in front of it. The driver and front-seat passenger of the van died at the site of the accident. Seven other passengers were injured and are being treated at nearby hospitals. Police say it is likely that the driver of the van had fallen asleep behind the wheel. They are investigating the case.