The Party of Citizens’ Rights – Zemanovci (SPOZ) has elected Zdeněk Štengl its new leader at a party conference in Prague. Mr. Štengl takes over the party leadership from Vratislav Mynář, who now serves as chancellor to President Miloš Zeman. The president, who has retained honorary chairmanship of the SPOZ party said he firmly believed the party grow in strength and cross the 5 percent support margin needed to win seats in the lower house in the 2014 general elections. However he warned its members against seeking an active role in government alongside the Social Democrats who are expected to win the next general elections. Mr. Zeman pointed out that such a role had proved destructive to all the smaller parties who had succumbed to the lure of power before they were ready for it. He advised SPOZ members to work hard in the opposition and give themselves time to grow and produce strong leaders.
The leadership of the ruling Civic Democratic Party is due to meet on Monday to debate ways of renewing public trust in the face of dwindling support. The party has been steadily losing public support throughout its time in office and opinion surveys now indicate that if elections were held today it would only stand to win between 9 and 16 percent of votes, coming in fourth after the Social Democrats, TOP 09 and the Communist Party. Critics say its drop in popularity is due to the party’s inability to communicate the need for painful fiscal reforms.
The Czech Republic has joined Poland and Germany in rejecting the European Commission´s proposal to set a 40 percent quota for women on the boards of big European companies. Czech lawmakers said the proposal was an intervention in shareholders´ rights and did not take into account the different conditions in individual member countries or in different fields of enterprise. Under the resolution, pushed through by European Commissioner Viviane Reding last November, state-run companies were expected to meet the 40 percent quota for women in 2018 and private companies in 2020. The norm would have concerned about 5000 big companies in the EU.
Car maker Škoda Auto has won the annual contest for the best-rated 100 companies in the Czech Republic for the 14th time in a row, according to the contest’s organizer Sdružení Czech Top 100. The power giant ČEZ defended its second position on the chart and Agrofert Holding jumped to third place. It is also the best-rated company in the category of agriculture. Kofola won the food industry category and Alpine Pro was top in the textile industry. The winners are picked by the managers of important companies, financial analysts, and trade union representatives and economic experts.
Czechs will join millions of people around the globe in turning off their lights for 60 minutes on Saturday night starting at 8:30pm local time in a symbolic show of support for the Earth Hour campaign against climate change. Earth Hour will dim some of Prague’s best known landmarks including Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Petřín Tower, Powder Tower, Old Town Square or the Žižkov TV tower. Prague and other cities around the Czech Republic first marked Earth Hour in 2012. More than 150 countries participated in the event last year.
The Czech Actors' Association is to present the prestigious annual Thalia Awards at Prague’s National Theatre on Saturday night. The awards are given in recognition of exceptional performances in the fields of drama, opera and ballet as well as for lifetime achievement. Actors from Prague theatre houses have nine nominations, Ostrava has seven nominees, Brno five and Plzen two.
The Czech national football team was outclassed by Denmark's squad in Olomouc on Friday night, losing by a score of 3:0. The Czech team saw two opportunities in the first half but fell apart in the second on defense, allowing the Danes too much room at the back and creating no scoring chances of their own. Andreas Cornelius opened the scoring in the 56th minute and the Danes scored two more before time. The Danish squad came close to adding a fourth but Petr Čech was able to deny Jacobsen who was alone and shot straight at the goaltender.
The Chamber of Deputies backed an amendment by the opposition Social Democrats on Friday, which, if passed in a final reading, would require the prime minister’s counter-signature on presidential pardons. Social Democrat Lubomír Zaorálek has charged that the current system did not work and went against the principles of the parliamentary system. The ruling Civic Democrats, as well as other members of the government coalition such as Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake, came out against the amendment. Some, like former justice minister Jiří Pospíšil made clear they would be in favour of the abolition of pardons entirely. The bill will now be reviewed by the chamber’s Committee of Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
The police have recommended that criminal charges be pressed against Tatra truck company CEO Ronald Adams. The head of the Czech branch in Kopřivice was under investigation for corruption since last year. State prosecutor Jan Petrásek, who has two weeks to review the case, said in all likelihood charges would be filed in the coming days with the regional court in Brno. Mr Adams, who is an American national, is suspected of having offered a 20 million crown bribe to try and secure a military contract with the Czech Army. He was accused by former defence minister Martin Barták, himself accused in the case.