Automotive production decreased by 1.7% last year to 1.174 billion cars. Despite the decline, 2012 saw the second largest automobile production in Czech Republic’s history. This is also the first decrease since 2003. Last year, car production went up by 9.5% compared to 2010, while the past decade has seen the output of the automotive industry grow 1.6 times. In the whole of Europe, the car industry suffered greater loses, with automobile production decreasing by 7%.
Another person died over the weekend in the Karlovy Vary region from the H1N1 virus, otherwise known as the swine flu. This is the second victim of this strain of the flu virus in the region this season. Sixteen people are being treated for swine flu in the region’s hospitals, with eight of them in serious condition. In the whole of the country, 16 people have died so far this season as a result of the flu, and around 100 have been hospitalized. The Chief Hygiene Officer Vladimir Valenta has made 1,440 packages of anti-viral medicine available to treat serious cases. Authorities said that none of the hospitalized patients had received the flu vaccine.
The governors of the Plzeň and Central Bohemian regions have not come to an agreement about what to do with the territory of the military training estate Brdy after the Czech army departs. Plzeň governor Milan Chovanec supports the government’s proposal that suggests dividing the territory between the two regions, while the Central Bohemian governor Josef Řihák is opposed. Now it is up to the parliament to decide on the matter. At a meeting on Monday, the two governors did agree on all other matters, including security, nature preservation measures and the development in the area. In a joint announcement, the two said they do not want to let any big developers to place large buildings in the Brdy area.
Snow has been falling heavily across most parts of the Czech Republic, for most of the day on Monday. Meteorologists have warned that as much as 15 centimeters of snow will fall over the course of the day in some areas. The wintery conditions have complicated traffic on Czech roads especially in southern Moravia where over 50 car accidents took place. In the Vysočina region there were at least 40. Rescue services in the Krkonoše Mountains have raised the hazard level to three, warning of possible avalanches.
The Václav Havel Library will start a year-long project of film marathon on Tuesday. One day a month a number of Czech and foreign films and television programs about the first Czech president Václav Havel will be shown at the Galerie Montmartre in Prague. The first screening this Tuesday will be about Mr Havel’s family and particularly his uncle Miloš Havel, who was one of the founders of the Czech film industry.
The first new minibuses will begin serving on a number of regular bus routes in Prague on Tuesday. A total of ten minibuses will operate as part of the public transport system before the end of March. The city’s public transport company wants to expand its minibus fleet, because the vehicles have a lower fuel consumption and are better sized for some parts of the city.
All the Czech tennis players who have so far played in this year’s Australian Open will be going on to the second round. Tomáš Berdych, Klára Zakopalová, Lucie Hradecká, Radek Štěpánek and a first-timer Kristýna Plíšková won their first-round matches. Tuesday will see six more Czechs play their first games at the grand slam, including Petra Kvitová and Lucie Šafářová.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has described the outcome of the first round of direct elections for his successor as the greatest rout of the country’s right since the fall of communism, after the candidate of the biggest right-wing party the Civic Democrats, Přemysl Sobotka, received only 2.5 percent of the vote. Mr. Klaus, who steps down in March, said he was saddened by the result and felt that “it was necessary to do something about it”. Former Social Democrat prime minister Miloš Zeman and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who is chairman of the TOP 09 party and an acolyte of the late Václav Havel, will face one another in a runoff beginning on January 25. Mr. Klaus places Mr. Schwarzenberg on the left, despite the fact that his party are commonly considered to be right-of-centre and have pushed through financial reforms and church restitution, which are unpopular with left-wing voters. For his part, Mr. Zeman says the runoff will be a left-right vote along the lines of the Hollande-Sarkozy battle for the presidency in France last year. Mr. Klaus refused to endorse either candidate.
The Czech Republic’s bookmakers are backing Karel Schwarzenberg to become the first directly elected president of the country, the news website lidovky.cz reported on Sunday. Miloš Zeman led the opinion polls going into the first round and confirmed the role of favourite by coming first with 24.2 percent of the vote. However, Mr. Schwarzenberg scored far better than expected with 23.4 percent. The betting firm Fortuna for instance is offering odds of 1.4 to 1 on a win for Mr. Schwarzenberg and 2.5 to 1 on a win for his rival.
On a Czech Television discussion programme on Sunday, Karel Schwarzenberg said he would not quit as foreign minister in connection with his presidential campaign. He said he would discuss how to proceed with the prime minister, Petr Nečas, during the coming week. For his part, Miloš Zeman said he appreciated an endorsement from his former party the Social Democrats, saying their support proved they were a genuine left-wing party. Both candidates said they would not run a negative campaign. The two are set to meet in a presidential debate on Czech TV on Thursday.