Former prime minister Jan Fischer and economist Jan Švejnar remain favourites in direct presidential elections, according to a new poll by the Factum Invenio agency released on Wednesday. If the elections were held in late March or early April, Jan Fischer would receive 23.3 percent of the vote, while Jan Švejnar would get 17.2 percent. Another former prime minister Miloš Zeman would come in third with 10 percent, while Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg would finish fourth with 8.3 percent of the vote. Direct presidential election will be for the first time held next year to elect the successor of Václav Klaus.
Around 30 writers, publishers and students paid homage to the late writer Josef Škvorecký at the Josef Škvorecký Secondary School in Prague on Wednesday. The school hosts a non-stop reading of books published in Mr Škovercký’s exile publishing house, 68 Publishers. Josef Škvorecký left Czechoslovakia in 1969 and settled in Toronto where he published books by Czech authors banned by the communist regime. He died in January at the age of 87.
Czech Fed Cup team captain Petr Pála on Wednesday announced the nominations for the semifinals of the women’s team event in which the Czech Republic will play Italy. Pert Pála selected Petra Kvitová and Lucie Šafářová for the singles while Lucie Hradecká and Andrea Hlaváčková will play the doubles. The semifinals are scheduled for April 21 and 22 in Ostrava.
Kometa Brno beat Pardubice 6:5 in the second game of the hockey league finals on Tuesday night and tied the best-of-seven series. Kometa was ahead 2:0 after the first period and was leading the hosts 6:2 in the third. But Pardubice scored three times in less than two minutes and were close to equalizing. However, Kometa held out and tied the final series which now moves to Brno.
The leaders of the three ruling parties have reached an agreement for the continuation of the centre-right government. After several hours of negotiations throughout Tuesday afternoon, the parties agreed on measures intended to keep the budget deficit below 3% GDP for 2013 and 2014 – a fundamental condition for the senior coalition parties. The junior coalition Public Affairs party, which ignited the current crisis last week with far-reaching demands, says they pushed through an agreement on maintaining maternity subsidies, which the party said was a priority. Public Affairs chairman Radek John said the goal of achieving better communication had been reached.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs wants to add an additional 140 million crowns to social services this year. Speaking after a meeting with an association of health care providers, Labour Minister Jaromír Drábek said he believed he would find the money within the ministry and planned to discuss the matter with the prime minister and Finance Minister. The association, which cares for the handicapped, seniors and others in need, says that the current lack of financing means that a number of services will be cancelled. A demonstration planned for April 16 was cancelled as per the agreement.
Financier Petr Kellner is making a major donation to President Václav
Klaus’ emerging think tank. In a rare interview for the daily Mladá
fronta Dnes the wealthiest Czech said he had decided to give the Václav
Klaus Institute a one-time donation of several tens of millions of crowns
for the long-term rental of a venue. Kellner said former presidents were
symbols and as such should receive greater support, which private
businessmen like himself could provide if the state would not. Václav
Klaus has said the aim of the institute is to comment on politics inside
and outside the Czech Republic through analyses, studies and statements.
On a separate note, Mr Kellner also told the paper that he believes corruption in the Czech Republic has gone “over the edge” and is worse than in Russia.
Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra awarded participants in the anti-communist resistance on Tuesday for the first time since the ratification of new legislation recognising their acts. A total of 23 people were awarded with certificates and badges, including four who were honoured in memoriam. Mr Vondra said in introduction that the country was paying back an enormous debt and told the recipients that freedom exists today thanks to people like them.
Industry Minister Martin Kuba says that the controversial anti-counterfeiting treaty ACTA should be reviewed by the Constitutional Court before being ratified. ACTA has stirred up a wave of international opposition in recent months and is currently being reviewed by the European Court of Justice. Mr Kuba, who also met with the Czech Pirate Party on Tuesday, said that his ministry would insist on a review by the court to ensure that it is in harmony with existing legislation and does not impede personal freedoms but added that the Industry Ministry had already done an analysis that show that ACTA changed nothing in the Czech legislation.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico will be visiting the Czech Republic on April 20 on his first trip abroad since taking office. The chairman of the Slovak Social Democratic party that he would be meeting, as is customary, with Prime Minister Nečas and President Klaus. Politicians from both countries have said their relations are exceptionally good. The centre-left Social Democrats swept early elections in Slovakia last month, allowing for a one-party government which took office last week. Robert Fico was also Prime Minister between 2006 and 2009.