An early general election will be held on October 25 and 26, President Miloš Zeman said on Friday, following consultations with leaders of parties represented in the lower house. The first session of the lower house after the elections was scheduled for November 26. The snap elections will take place two months after the Czech lower house voted to dissolve itself, ending a political crisis triggered by the collapse of the centre-right government of Petr Nečas. The president is expected to formally dissolve the lower house on Wednesday.
The Social Democrats remain in the lead in a new election survey by the Median agency released on Friday. The party would receive 32 percent of the vote, followed by the Communists with 15.5 percent. The conservative former coalition party TOP 09 would came in third with 15 percent while the Civic Democrats would receive 13.5 percent of the vote. The president’s SPOZ group would win around 5 percent. The survey suggests that the Christian Democrats, the Greens and other parties would not pass the 5-percent threshold to enter the lower house. Over 63 percent of those polled said they would take part in the election.
The Czech Senate will reject legislation that would cut taxes for investment funds and introduce a zero tax on dividends, Senate speaker Milan Štěch and Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka told reporters on Friday. The Social Democrats control the Senate with 46 out of 81 seats. The officials said the legislation, put forth by the previous centre-right government and approved by the lower house, would result in serious losses for the state budget. However, the bills are part of legislation needed for a new civil code to enter into force on January 1, 2014. Mr Stěch said the government could deal with the situation via the so-called legal measures the Senate can adopt while the lower house is dissolved.
An influential Civic Democrat MP, Boris Šťastný, on Friday announced he was leaving his party. In a statement on his website, Mr Šťastný said the Civic Democrats had abandoned their roots and betrayed their voters. The deputy said he was not leaving politics but would like to establish a new group which would facilitate the return of former president, and founder of the Civic Democrat party Václav Klaus to politics. There has been speculation that Mr Klaus, whose second term as president ended earlier this year, will attempt a political comeback either by rejoining the Civic Democrat party, another existing group or forming a new party.
Deputy chair of the Green Party, and the group’s former leader Martin Bursík on Friday said he was leaving the Greens over their alleged shift to the left. Mr Bursík said the party was preparing to join a wide left-wing coalition conceived by President Zeman; he decided to leave the party after its leadership rejected his proposals to rule out cooperation with the Communists. Martin Bursík served as chairman of the Green Party between 2005 and 2009; under his leadership, the party joined a centre-right coalition cabinet led by the Civic Democrats, a move criticized by many of the party’s supporters.
The police are ready for anti-Romany rallies expected in five Czech cities on Saturday, a spokeswoman for the police said. Anti-Romany gatherings, organized by far-right extremists, are to take place in Ostrava, Plzeň, České Budějovice, Jičín and Duchcov. The police have information about the expected turnout at the rallies, the spokeswoman said, adding that riot units of the police have prepared accordingly. In two places – in Ostrava and Plzeň, Romany and human rights groups are planning to stage their own protests against racism. The Czech Republic has seen a rise in ethnic tensions in recent months; experts say the phenomenon is fuelled by falling living standards of low-income strata of the society.
A US film production is scheduled to shoot in Prague’s metro over the weekend. On Saturday, service will be suspended at the metro’s line B between the stations Smíchovské nádraží and Florenc from 10 PM till 8 AM. On Sunday morning, trains will not stop at Anděl station. The production is shooting a film called Child 44 in Prague, a movie directed by Daniel Espinosa and produced by Ridley Scott.
Around 20 dead birds of prey have been found near Litoměřice in northern Bohemia in recent days, the Czech Ornithological Society said. The birds were apparently poisoned, and the case in under police investigation. Ornithologists, who believe they found a poison bait in the area, says this is the most serious case of bird poisoning in recent years.
Free practice sessions are held on Friday at the Masaryk racing circuit outside Brno for Sunday’s motorcycle Grand Prix of the Czech Republic. Tens of thousands of fans are expected at the circuit which could cause problems on the D1 motorway outside Brno which is under reconstruction. Congested traffic on D1 is also expected on Sunday after the Grand Prix is over.
Liberec stunned the Italian side Udinese 3:1 in Trieste on Thursday night in the first leg of the Europa League’s final qualification round. The hosts dominated the game while Liberec only took three shots at the goal, and converted all of them. This gives the Czech side a great advantage for the second leg, scheduled in Liberec for next week. Another Czech club, Jablonec, lost to Spain’s Real Betis at home 2:1 in their Europa League qualifier on Thursday.