According to a fresh poll by the Factum Invenio agency, the current opposition party, the Social Democrats, would receive some 72 mandates in the lower house if elections were held today. The senior coalition party, the Civic Democrats, would secure some 41 seats; the Communists 42. The Green Party and the Christian Democrats would be able to again gain seats in the lower house if an election took place today. They would receive 7 and 14 seats, respectively. The poll also suggests that over 60 percent of Czechs would cast their ballot, a slightly lower percentage than 2010’s voter turnout.
Defense player Zbyněk Michálek will not be joining the Czech team at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship which takes place in Finland and Sweden. Michálek, who plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins, has to undergo a hip surgery and therefore cannot support the Czech national representation. Coach Alois Hadamczik told press on Friday that Michálek was very disappointed and hopes to join the national team in the future.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in the Czech Republic on an official visit in May. According to a source of the Czech News Agency ČTK, Israel’s prime minister will be travelling with a delegation of several ministers. He is set to meet with Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas as well as members of his cabinet. In April, on occasion of a previous visit of the Israeli prime minister to the Czech Republic, the two leaders had discussed expanding the cooperation between both countries in the areas of research and development as well as the military and economic sectors.
Czech farmers are planning a series of road blockades in protest of the planned discontinuation of tax rebates on diesel fuel for workers in the agricultural sector and the announced introduction of a new tax on wine. The first blockade is set to take place on May 23rd. According to the head of the Agricultural Chamber, Jan Veleba, farmers are hoping to put the government under pressure to reverse its decision. In mid-April, the chamber had called on Prime Minister Petr Nečas to conserve the diesel tax rebates in the agricultural sector. The discontinuation of the rebate program comes as part of a reform package aimed at keeping the state budget deficit below 3 percent GDP in 2013 and 2014. Currently, farmers are able to claim 60 percent of the consumption tax they pay on diesel gas back from the state.
The new faction around Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake, formerly of
Public Affairs, has announced its official name: LIDEM, Czech for “For
the People” as well as a nod to the group’s orientation, liberal
democratic. The political platform announced its name at a news conference
on Thursday afternoon, where it also advertised a competition it is holding
for its new logo. On Monday, its members will begin collecting the
signatures necessary for the formation of a new party.
Peake had left Public Affairs in mid-April, stating that she disliked the style in which the former junior coalition partner presented itself. Her split with the party and the subsequent walk-out of some of its other members cast serious doubt over the future of the government coalition; however, it survived a vote of confidence last week.
Former senator Vlastimil Sehnal on Sunday went on a hunger strike in support of the jailed former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. He says that he wants to raise awareness of the case in the Czech Republic and inspire other politicians to intervene in the matter. Mr Sehnal told the Czech News Agency ČTK that Czech President Václav Klaus should travel to Ukraine to discuss the case of the jailed leader with current President Viktor Yanukovych. Yulia Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year sentence for signing contracts for the delivery of Russian gas that were allegedly not in the public interest, has been on a hunger strike since April 20. Her imprisonment has been criticized by EU and international leaders. Earlier this week, President Václav Klaus cancelled a visit to Ukraine in protest over her imprisonment. The Austrian, Slovenian and German heads of state have also refused to participate in an upcoming summit of central European presidents.
Health Minister Leoš Heger has caved into pressure from doctors and patients regarding a new piece of legislation that would require both parents to give their approval prior to any medical treatment of their child. On Thursday, a ministry official announced that under the new law, the approval of only one parent will suffice for a child’s medical treatment. Further changes are also underway in the treatment of teenage patients aged 15 to 18. The legislative changes could go into effect as early as this fall.
A former public transport worker from Olomouc, Roman Smetana, may soon be released from prison, where he is serving a 100-day sentence for the destruction of public property. Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil has filed a complaint in the man’s favor and has appealed to the court to cancel its verdict. He said that it is up to the court to decide whether the defacing of political campaign posters, of which Mr Smetana was found guilty, was a criminal offense or merely a misdemeanor. Mr Smetana was charged with defacing public property for adding feelers to politicians’ photographs on campaign posters. After he refused to pay the fine, he was sent to prison.
A Prague court has returned a case of alleged support of terrorism to the prosecution for further investigation over procedural errors, a spokeswoman for the court said on Wednesday. Four foreigners– three men from Dagestan and one from Moldova – were arrested last year in the Czech Republic on charges of support of terrorism. They allegedly counterfeited identification documents for members of Jamaat Shariat, an Islamist militant group in Dagestan. If found guilty, the men could face up to ten years in prison.
A court in Ostrava, in the north-east of the country, on Wednesday sentenced a 55-year-old man to 18 months in prison for failing to pay over 200,000 crowns in fees for his hospital stays. According to the prosecution, the man spent most of the time between late 2007 and last November in hospitals; he owes money to some 70 Czech hospitals. He also often ordered above-standard services although he was not be able to pay for them. The man is believed to suffer from Munchausen syndrome, a disorder characterized by feigning diseases to attract attention and sympathy. Both the defendant and the prosecutor said they consider appealing the verdict.