Asked on a Sunday TV debate programme what he thought his
government’s chances in the confidence vote were, Prime Minister Rusnok
said he thought it would get 96 or 97 votes in the 200-member Chamber of
Deputies and expressed the convicition that would be enough. He said the
numbers were difficult to gauge given the dynamic
nature of the lower house but stated that Wednesday would be decisive. The
former centre-right coalition says it has a 101 majority but it is unclear
all of its MPs will be on hand for the confidence vote due to summer
Meanwhile, a new STEM/MARK poll commissioned by public broadcaster Czech TV has shed light on how members of the public view the coalition government: 37 percent answered it was a government of friends of President Miloš Zeman; 15 percent sees it as a government of experts, and 7 percent as a cabinet of the Citizens’ Rights – Zemanites party.
In related news, Bohuslav Sobotka, the head of the opposition Social Democrats, has told iDnes that even if the country’s caretaker government survives its confidence vote, he will continue to push for early elections. In an interview for the website, the party leader emphasised it was necessary to stop President Zeman from further expanding his influence, saying there hadn’t been a need to defend democratic principles so strongly prior to the existence of the current cabinet. Following the collapse of the last government, President Zeman ignored lawmakers – as well as parliamentary principles, according to some critics – by naming his close associate, Jiří Rusnok, prime minister. The Social Democrats are divided on the issue: some within the party maintain the caretaker government is better than a return by the centre-right.
Meteorologists have again registered record temperatures across the Czech Republic: on Saturday parts of the country saw almost 39 degrees Celsius – five degrees higher than was predicted just a few days ago. The country has seen a heat wave for the second weekend in a row. Brod nad Dyjí in the Břeclav area saw 38.7 degrees; Prague and Brno also saw temperatures above 38. Meanwhile, it was revealed that July was the sixth-hottest in the country in 80 years and meteorologists say that warmer than average weather will continue throughout the month of August.
In related news, parts of the country were hit by sudden storms late Saturday and early Sunday: North Bohemia, including the city of Liberec, was hit by strong winds and rain at around 11 PM. Hail also fell in places; no serious damage was reported. Storms are expected to hit most of the Czech Republic later on Sunday. A thunderstorm hit Prague shortly before six pm.
According to legal expertise commissioned at the last minute by the region of Central Bohemia, the region did not suffer damages in connection with alleged corruption by former Social Democrat governor David Rath, whose trial begins next week. The news was reported by public broadcaster Czech TV. Just half a year ago, officials had maintained the region had been negatively impacted. The state prosecutor maintains there is enough evidence of Mr Rath’s criminal activities as is. The former governor (also a former health minister) was arrested in May of 2012 with 7 million crowns – a suspected bribe – on his person. He has been in custody since. His trial begins on August 7.
A bust of Václav Drbola was unveiled in Babice in the Třebíč area on Saturday in memory of the priest who was sentenced to death and executed by the Communists in 1951. Drbola was one of 11 who received the maximum sentence in a series of show trials conducted by the former regime in connection with the murder of the three Communist functionaries in the area. The Church has launched the process of the late priest’s beatification; around 300 people attended the unveiling on Saturday.
One of the Czech Republic’s most-highly respected film festivals – the Summer Film School in Uherské Hradiště – wrapped up on Saturday. The 39th inception saw 228 films screened in eight theatres; 184 of them were feature-length productions. Notable guests this year included actor and director Jan Kačer, Czech acting legend Pavel Landovský, Serbian director Goran Paskaljevič and others. The Summer Film School is famous for lectures, workshops and an open forum for debate with artists and industry professionals.
League champions Plzeň are on a roll in the new season, declassing Ostrava 4:0 in their match on Saturday. Plzeň dominated despite missing a number of key players; the goals were scored by Kovařík, Wágner, Hořava a Ďuriš. In the first three matches of the season, Plzeň has gotten off to an excellent start, winning all three games and netting 13 goals while giving up just two.
Interim Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok has told the news site aktualne.cz
that his government could continue to rule for several months even if it
fails to find support in next Wednesday’s confidence vote. The economist
referred to the Constitution as well as the rule of a previous government
under similar circumstances. The Chamber of Deputies
is to hold the vote on the future of the cabinet beginning 10 AM on
Wednesday. Only two parties in the chamber have expressed support, the
Communists and Public Affairs; the opposition Social Democrats remain
divided over the issue.
If the former centre-right coalition can shore-up a 101-majority as claimed, there is no chance Mr Rusnok’s government would be able to pass. The prime minister, a close associate of President Zeman’s, will visit deputies’ clubs to try and boost support. According to one report, he will not receive an invitation from the Civic Democrats, who oppose the current government as an attempt to bypass Parliament as well as the country’s constitution.
Luboš Pašek, a long-term business partner of controversial Czech lobbyist Roman Janoušek, has claimed that some of the gold seized at a Prague bank in June by the country’s anti-crime unit is his. Police seized millions of crowns in gold bullion as part of an extensive raid that exposed a spying and corruption scandal that led to the fall of the previous government. Along with the seizure, Mr Pašek’s office and home were also searched. The businessman has filed charges against the state. According to his lawyer Prokop Beneš, the seizure was unlawful; he claims his client bought the investment gold from a certified seller and that the transaction and source of the funds were transparent; he added that the account was in his clients’ name. The lawsuit will go ahead if the police do not return the gold within six months, according to news site iDnes.
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