Former prime minister Mirek Topolánek has suggested he will leave the party he once headed, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, telling the weekly Euro he would probably not renew membership in March of next year. He told the magazine that the chances of his paying the annual membership fee was “close to zero”; the party, which heads the current government coalition, has suffered a significant drop in voter preference recent opinion polls, coming third behind both opposition parties the Social Democrats and the Communists. Speaking at the party’s convention in November, Mr Topolánek pushed for changes in leadership which he says did not happen. Mr Topolánek first joined the Civic Democrats in 1994; he took over as leader in 2002 and led the party shortly up until the 2010 elections, when he was replaced by current leader Petr Nečas.
Deputy Communist Party leader Jiří Dolejš has suggested that support from within his party is likely higher for Social Democratic presidential hopeful Jiří Dienstbier than for fellow fellow candidate and former Social Democrat leader Miloš Zeman. Mr Dolejš was reacting to an appeal by current Social Democrat chairman Bohuslav Sobotka at the weekend for the Left to align behind a single candidate, to curb right-wing or conservative candidates' chances of being elected. Despite the appeal, Mr Dolejš made clear he did not know who his party leadership would recommend. The country faces its first direct presidential election in January; President Václav Klaus ends his final term in March.
Students in their last year at high school had their last chance on Monday to apply for high school-leaving exams next spring. The exams include a compulsory section in the Czech language and an option of choosing between either mathematics or a foreign language. After numerous mistakes in the last exams, changes in testing were introduced: namely all students will be tested at the same level (without, for example, an advanced option in maths).
A patient in his early 60s was admitted to hospital in Benešov, Central Bohemia, in serious condition on Sunday evening for methyl alcohol poisoning. Police are investigating and the bottle of spirits that were consumed is being tested in a laboratory. A police spokesman revealed the bottle was from the patient’s long-term supplies. The Czech Republic was hit by an outbreak of methanol poisoning in mid-September that over the weeks and months since has claimed 37 lives. The laced alcohol was introduced onto the market illegally in September by bootleggers. Officials have repeatedly appealed to Czechs not to drink hard alcohol of unknown origin – a warning being repeated ahead of the holiday season.
According to Czech Radio’s Regina, Prague residents may have to pay more next year for garbage removal: City Hall has not yet addressed the issue publically, but several towns are planning hikes. Funds have not been enough in the long term – estimates suggest that roughly half billion crowns are needed.
The Czech government plans to keep community service for the unemployed
which was overturned last week by the country’s Constitutional Court, the
minister of labour and social affairs, Ludmila Müllerová said on Czech TV
on Sunday. To accommodate the objections of the court, the system might
undergo some minor changes, Ms Müllerová said. These could include the
prolongation of period after which the jobless are required to start
community service, and even a possibility of some salary being paid to
those who take part in the programme.
The Constitutional Court last week said the free yet compulsory community service for the unemployed, introduced by the Nečas government last year, was humiliating, in breach of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and also contradicted a ban on forced labour.
The Czech Republic’s security council is set to discuss on Monday a possible deal with Sweden to extend the lease of the JAS 39 Gripen fighters. The outgoing Czech Defence Minister, Alexandr Vondra, will inform the council of the negotiations; Mr Vondra said earlier this week the latest offer was much better than the one made previously. The ten-year-lease of the Swedish-made fighters will expire in 2014; the Czech government prefers an extension of the lease to a new tender. The news agency ČTK reported that three possible deals are being discussed: a three-year extension for over five billion, a five-year lease for nearly eight billion, or a ten-year extension for more than 14 billion crowns.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke over the phone with his
Czech counterpart, Petr Nečas, over the weekend to express his gratitude
for the Czech vote against the Palestinian status upgrade at the United
Nations, the news website Jerusalem Post reported. In Thursday’s vote in
the UN General Assembly, the Czech Republic was the only EU country to vote
against the bid. Mr Netanyahu also said he would stop in Prague on his way
to Germany next week to personally thank the Czech Republic for voting with
Czech banks post higher profits in Q1-3
Czech banks posted higher annual profits in the first three quarters of this year, according to figures released by the Czech central bank on Sunday. Their net profits increased by 10 billion crowns and reached 52.2 billion crowns. The banks’ interest returns were one percent higher while fees and commissions generated 2.5 less revenues than in the same period last year. The highest increase in profits was reported by Česká spořitelna which made 11.8 billion crowns, representing a 23-percent rise; Komerční banka’s profits reached 10.9 billion crowns which was 55 percent more than last year.
The Czech movie Alois Nebel, by Tomáš Luňák, won the European Film Award for best animated feature film at an awards ceremony in Malta on Saturday night. The existential black-and-white thriller about a lonely train dispatcher haunted by the past beat the other nominees, the Spanish movie Wrinkles and the US-UK film Pirates. Alois Nebel, wihc is based on a comics novel by Jaroslav Rudiš and Jaromír99, has become the third Czech film to win Europe’s equivalent of the Academy award, after Miloš Forman’s People vs Larry Flint and Helena Třeštíková’s documentary René.
The Christian Democratic party wants to double its tally in the next general election and re-enter the lower house of Parliament, party chair Pavel Bělobrádek said. Speaking at the party’s conference in Jihlava on Saturday, Christian Democrat leaders called for unity and more activity on the regional level. The party also slightly changed its statutes discussed changes to the name of the party; however, the conference decided to keep the name of the Christian-Democrat Union – the Czechoslovak People’s Party. In the 2010 election, the party only won some 4.3 percent of the vote and failed to win seats in the house, for the first time in 90 years.