The Public Affairs party has ended their coalition agreement with the Civic Democrats and TOP 09. The leaders of the three governing parties originally agreed to officially end their cooperation on Friday, with Public Affairs saying they would continue to support the government’s austerity measures. However, Public Affairs chairman Radek John now says that the Civic Democrats nullified the agreement already by seeking defectors in his party. He also withdrew unconditional support for the agreed austerity measures, saying the party would now be in “constructive opposition”. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said the about-face showed that it was impossible to govern with Public Affairs, which he called untrustworthy, irrational and hysterical.
The 'new' government successfully tested its strength in the lower house on Tuesday for the first time without the support of Public Affairs, adjourning its regular session ahead of a vote of confidence on Friday. The adjournment was supported by 100 of the 189 deputies present. Apart from the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and the eight MPs who recently left Public Affairs, the motion was supported by unaffiliated Michal Doktor, who left the Civic Democrats last year, and Miroslav Petraň of Public Affairs. The motion to adjourn was purportedly intended to avoid dealing with any bills before it is clear if the government has sufficient support in the lower house.
The head of the opposition Social Democrats Bohuslav Sobotka says the government is illegitimate and that his party will not respect it. Referring to the government’s new reliance on the support of defectors from Public Affairs, Mr Sobotka said that nothing good lies ahead with a government that bases its existence on breaking the principles of political culture. He also recalled the fate of the previous elected government, which was formed with support from two defectors and ended halfway through the Czech EU presidency in 2009. Opinion polls suggest that almost 80% of Czechs do not trust the government. Some 100,000 people came to the streets of Prague at the weekend to demonstrate their opposition to the government.
The state intelligence agency BIS is still uncertain of the origin of wiretapped phone calls between former Prague mayor Pavel Bém and construction tycoon Roman Janoušek. The daily Mladá fronta Dnes, which first published the recordings, claims that they were created by BIS and acquired by the detective agency ABL. After a meeting of the parliamentary committee investigating the presumed leak, intelligence director Jiří Lang said there were a number of indications that the recordings could have been made elsewhere. The wiretaps suggest that in 2008 then-mayor Bém allowed his friend Janoušek undue influence on the city management and policy. Mr Bém has since left the Civic Democratic Party but remains his membership in Parliament.
Civic groups demonstrating in front of Parliament on Tuesday declared the area a ‘sociopathic zone’. Dressed in white frocks and surgical masks, the demonstrators handed out flyers and sick sacks stamped “for use if Czech politicians cause queasiness”. The Prague Forum and Democracy Czech-Up initiatives are seeking to draw attention to Members of Parliament who are suspected or even convicted of criminal activities but have not given up their mandates. Organiser Václav Němec said that MPs Pavel Bém, Pavel Drobil, Vít Bárta, and Jaroslav Škárka were jeering at the principles of politics by remaining in Parliament as if nothing had happened.
The TOP 09 party has rejected an offer from the Civic Democrats to join certain ballots in Senate elections this autumn. The wider leadership of the Civic Democrats on Monday took the surprising step of suggesting the two centre-right parties put forward joint candidates in certain districts. A TOP 09 spokeswoman responded to the offer on Tuesday saying that the party is not convinced that ideas reign over business interests in the Civic Democrats’ regional chapters. A total of 27 seats will be available in the election, with the Civic Democrats defending 14 of them.
The Civic Democratic Party has decided on two presidential candidates for party primaries, deputy Senate leader Přemysl Sobotka and former Ostrava mayor Evžen Tošenovský. The candidates will appear at public election assemblies in the party's regional branches at the end of April; the election itself will be held in nine constituencies during May and June. The favourite for the nomination, deputy chairwoman Miroslava Nemcová, said earlier in April she would not contest the post. According to recent polls, the candidates have poor odds in the direct presidential election with less than 3%. Independent former prime minister Jan Fischer currently enjoys the highest support with nearly a third of the electorate behind him, according to a mid-April survey.
The Slav Epic by celebrated Art Nouveau painter Alphons Mucha will go on display in Prague’s Veletržní Palác on May 10. Preparations for the exhibit cost 36 million crowns and consisted of major technical modifications to the exhibition hall. The 20 enormous canvasses have been the subject of much controversy in recent years as the City of Prague has attempted to transfer them from their long residence in the town of Moravský Krumlov. The exhibit is expected to run for at least two years. The painter’s family is seeking a specially constructed area for the work in accordance with his wishes.
Czechs are not particularly interested in their state of health according to a poll conducted by the STEM agency this month. The survey suggests that two out of five people in the Czech Republic do not know their blood type, 70% are unaware of the names and side effects of the drugs they use. The agency says that only about one third of Czechs have detailed information about their medical history and one fourth remembers when they last had the flu. At the same time, 93% of respondents said they would welcome having access to their health records, an option that some health insurers already provide.
The Czech gross domestic product expanded by around 50% in the 20 years following 1990, the Czech Statistical Office reports. The Slovak economy grew by 65%. Both countries´ economies fell after the 1989 overthrow of the communist regime; the Czech economy started to grow in 1996, when economic output increased by 2%, while the Slovak GDP fall was faster and the country´s economy started to rise in 1998. Very dynamic growth in the Czech economy began in 1999, the office said, with GDP increasing by more than 45% between 1999 and 2010, or around 3.5 percent a year, peaking in 2008. The statisticians will release more details and comparisons of the Czech and Slovak economies May 4, when the office will publish a book on the subject.