A new survey conducted by Factum Invenio has suggested that former prime minister and presidential hopeful Miloš Zeman is in third place among voters, trailing early favourites Jan Fischer, who headed an interim government in 2009/2010, and Czech-American economist Jan Švejnar. According to the poll, if the election were held today Mr Fischer would receive 24.4 percent in the first round, followed by Mr Švejnar with 17.8 percent and Mr Zeman with 12 percent. Only the first two would compete in the run-off. Almost 67 percent of voters, the survey suggests, would take part. The Czech Republic will be holding its first-ever direct presidential election in early 2013, when Václav Klaus ends his second and final term in office.
More than 201,000 clients switched electricity providers in the first four months of the year, nearly half the number for the whole of last year, according to data from the electricity market operator OTE. The situation is similar on the gas market, where clients have changed suppliers in order to save. Experts believe the rate of change will probably not fall in the coming months. The Energy Regulatory Office recently warned of rising complaints regarding energy suppliers’ methods of signing and cancelling contracts. The ERU has ordered the companies to remedy the situation otherwise they will be sanctioned.
About a fifth of working age Czechs reported long-term medical problems last year. According to information from people aged 15 to 64 let analysed by the Czech Statistics Office, complaints most frequently involved back, muscular system, heart and circulation problems. The office’s calculations suggest that more than 1.34 million Czechs may have health problems lasting longer than one year. About 20% of female respondents cited health problems compared to some 17% of men. While such long-term problems were reported by every fifteenth just under 30 years of age, that statistic rose to every ninth person 10 years older. People aged 25 to 29 were most likely to complain of long-lasting depression or psychological problems.
The prison system lacks 1.2 billion for this year, the Justice Ministry reports. The ministry has asked the government to raise its budget by 940 million. However Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has cast doubt on that possibility, suggesting the system has too many employees per inmate. Prison services meanwhile note that the number of inmates is constantly rising and prisons are over capacity. The current budget for the prison system is 7.5 billion crowns.
The cubist painting “Woman Lying” by Czech artist Emil Filla was sold at auction for 15.2 million crowns at the weekend, making it one of the most expensive paintings auctioned off in the Czech Republic. The 1930s nude was part of a Prague private collection until now, and had a reserve price of 9.5 million crowns. It was bought by a collector who took part in the auction by phone. The all-time record at a Czech auction fell last month when a Russian-speaking collector bought “The Shape of Blue” by Frantisek Kupka for 55.75 million crowns.
Archaeologists in Prague’s Bubeneč district have found evidence of structures more than 7500 years old. Imprints from wooden supports suggested trapezoidal longhouses typical of the Linear Pottery culture that inhabited Europe in the early Stone Age. Evidence of a later structure suggested a date between 4300 and 3600 BCE from the Stroke-ornamented ware culture. Bubeneč, at the northern bend in the Vltava River, has been the site of numerous archaeological findings, most recently evidence of some of the oldest ploughed furrows in the Czech Republic. The new find pushes its earliest known settlement back to 5500 BCE and marks the earliest agricultural settlements in the country.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will mark VE Day on Tuesday with an open-doors event at its headquarters in Černínský Palace. Free tours will be given through some of the palace’s most valued rooms, such as the garden and the residence of Jan Masaryk. The garden will host an exhibition of WWII posters, photographs and historic vehicles. The palace will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. after which time a concert of Ondřej Havelka and his Melody Makers will take place.
The presidents of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland, meeting on the
second day of a two-day Visegrad 4 summit in Slovakia’s High Tatras,
expressed differences in their stance on Ukraine regarding the case of
jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. According to the Czech news
agency, all agreed not to boycott this summer’s Euro 2012 football
championship (jointly-hosted by Ukraine and Poland) but, for example,
President Václav Klaus has chosen not to attend an upcoming summit in
Yalta. More than ten statesmen have chosen to boycott the planned summit
protest over how Ukraine’s former prime minister is being treated behind
Mr Klaus stressed there had been no change in his position, in the past having asked Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, for assurances that Mrs. Tymoshenko’s trial was not a political one. Slovakia’s President Ivan Gasparovic and Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski, however, will attend; Mr. Klaus said he respected their decisions, not least because their countries, unlike the Czech Republic, both border Ukraine.
Trade union representatives will not return to tripartite talks to discuss
planned strike legislation, the head of the independent unions Bohumír
Dufek said in a TV debate programme on Sunday. Union leaders said last
that they would return to the negotiating table with the government and
employers only when there was a new cabinet or the current centre-right
government put the brakes on planned reforms. The head of the trade
union’s umbrella organisation ČMKOS, Jaroslav Zavadil, will reportedly
arrive for talks to be held on May 10, but only to outline the unions’
Representatives are planning on organizing a number of protests – including a strike. The unions most recently called for the government to step down following the splintering of its smallest party, Public Affairs, into a new faction and following the departure of Public Affairs from government. As a result Prime Minister Petr Nečas called a vote of confidence that the government survived with 105 votes in the lower house.
Presidential hopeful Přemysl Sobotka won his party’s opening primaries on Saturday, defeating lone party rival Evžen Tošenovský. The deputy speaker of the upper house received 404 votes, compared to the Euro MP’s 141 in Pardubice and Hradec Králové – two of the country’s 14 regions. Mr Sobotka said that while the contest in his party to elect a candidate was just beginning, he had received a boost into the next stages. The party primaries will continue through June, with the winner being officially announced on July 1.