The Senate has approved a bill which would strip convicted MPs of their salaries. The bill still needs to be signed into law by the president. Once in force it will affect MP Roman Pekárek who is serving a sentence for corruption. Another jailed MP, David Rath, also charged with corruption, awaits trial.
Lower house speaker Miroslava Němcová says that in her view the police raid on government offices last week violated constitutional principles. In an interview for Friday’s edition of the daily Hospodářské Noviny, Mrs. Němcová criticized the fact that the country’s leading officials were kept in the dark for hours about the purpose of the raid and even after the police failed to provide any information which would justify such extreme action. She said that if she is appointed to lead the next cabinet she would ask the interior and justice ministries to look into the matter.
Ivan Fuksa, one of the three former Civic Democrat MPs who have been charged with corruption, has appealed the court ruling under which he was remanded in custody. The former deputy questions both the argument that he could influence witnesses and the very essence of the charges brought against him, on the grounds that accepting perks does not constitute a crime.
More than half of Czechs would prefer snap elections as a way of resolving the current government crisis, according to a poll carried out by Median agency for Czech Radio. The second most popular preference is to have an interim government manage the country until scheduled elections in May of next year. If a political government were to be chosen, 29 percent would prefer to see a prime minister from the Social Democratic Party and 22 percent would prefer a Civic Democrat to head the government. The current government crisis was triggered by the resignation of Prime Minister Petr Nečas, who left his post on Monday amid a huge corruption scandal involving his chief-of-staff.
The organized crime police unit suspects lobbyists Roman Janoušek and Ivo Rittig of having received overpriced contracts from state enterprises and smuggled millions of crowns into foreign accounts, according to Friday’s edition of Mlada fronta Dnes. Ivo Rittig allegedly received an overpriced contract from the forestry company Lesy ČR while Mr. Janoušek won an overpriced contract from the waterways management enterprise Povodí Vltavy and is suspected of extensive money laundering through his bank accounts and companies in Switzerland. Neither of the suspects has been detained and their lawyers told the press that the police had found no evidence of illegal activity during searches of their homes and offices.
President Zeman has fully met his financial obligations stemming from the presidential election campaign, the head of his office Vratislav Mynář told journalists on Friday. The president covered the final expenditures this week, thanks to a financial gift from the party of Citizens’ Rights which he set up and of which he is honorary chairman. The 35,000 crowns left on his campaign account will reportedly go to a children’s charity. In line with a new law on direct presidential elections, all candidates in the running had to have a transparent account.
Twenty rock’n’roll groups will perform at a charity concert in aid of flood victims which is taking place on Friday evening at the campsite Pražačka. Fans can look forward to Lemon Nashville and His Golden Killers, Slapdash and Lazy Bones, among others. Tickets cost 100 crowns and the proceeds will go to a flood account set up by the Czech Radio Foundation.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek was questioned by the police on Thursday in connection with a case involving three former Civic Democratic MPs, who were allegedly offered seats on the boards of state-owned companies in exchange for giving up their mandates and allowing the government’s tax reforms to pass. Mr. Kalousek, who was questioned as a witness, told the police that he did not offer former MP Petr Tluchoř the post at the energy company ČEZ in exchange for political favors. The State Attorney has pressed charges of corruption against Mr. Tluchoř, as well as former MPs Marek Šnajdr, Ivan Fuksa and the prime minister’s chief of staff Jana Nagyová.
In a secret ballot on Thursday morning, Tomáš Hudeček from the TOP 09 party was elected as the new mayor of Prague, the first councilman not from the Civic Democratic party to lead the Prague City Hall in 22 years. The Social Democrats promised to support the TOP 09 nominee and their minority city council government earlier in the week, but did not sign a coalition agreement with the center-right party preferring to remain in the opposition. The 34-year old Hudeček has been acting mayor since his party withdrew from its coalition with the Civic Democrats, ousting mayor Bohuslav Svoboda in mid-May.
President Miloš Zeman said that he will discuss his views on the Civic
Democrats’ nomination of Miroslava Němcová for the post of prime
minister first with leaders of the parliamentary parties and only after
will reveal his decision to the press. The Civic Democratic leadership put
forward the lower house speaker as their nominee on Wednesday, after Petr
Nečas resigned as prime minister in response to a scandal involving his
closest aides. President Zeman plans to meet with party chairmen in the
next few days to discuss possible solutions to the current government
crisis. It is in his competence to name a candidate from
among the Civic Democrats to try and renew the centre-right coalition or
could decide on a candidate of his own choosing to lead a caretaker
government. The president has also said that the possibility of early
elections is not off the table.
The Social Democrats have criticized the choice of Mrs. Němcová, but the Civic Democrats’ coalition partners TOP 09 and LIDEM parties mostly approved of it.