Czech film director, screenwriter and actor Jiří Krejčík died at the age of 95 in Prague on Thursday, the news agency ČTK has reported. Mr Krejčík made over 20 films in a career that began in 1947. His best known films include the 1960 WWII drama Higher Principle, the biographical film about the singer Ema Destinová entitled The Divine Ema, as well as a number of comedies. Jiří Krejčík received the Czech Lion film award for lifetime achievement, as well as a similar prize from the Karlovy Vary film festival. He was also awarded the Czech Republic’s Medal of Merit in recognition of his work.
Marian Piecha has been named the new head of CzechInvest, a state agency in charge of attracting foreign investment. Mr Piecha previously served as the head of investment and innovation at the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The agency’s previous director was dismissed last August over problems with a public procurement project.
Former Czech international Tomáš Ujfaluši has signed a one-year contract Sparta Prague. The defender, who made 78 appearances for the national squad, had played abroad for more than 12 years for clubs including Italy's Fiorentina and Atletico Madrid in Spain. His last club was Turkey's Galatasaray, where he hadn't played since last August due to a knee injury.
Czech title-holders Viktoria Plzeň have been drawn against the Slovenian side Maribor for the final round of qualification for the Champions League. The first leg is scheduled for August 20 or 21 in Plzeň, the second a week later in Slovenia. In the final round of qualifiers for the second-tier Europa League, Liberec has been drawn against Italy’s Udinese while Jablonec will play Real Betis.
The country’s MPs will vote to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies next
week; the Social Democrats, the Communists, and TOP 09 are expected to
agree on an extraordinary session. The vote, which could take place early
as Tuesday should open the path to early elections within 60 days. The
option of early elections came to the forefront on Wednesday after it
became apparent that the Rusnok cabinet would continue in power even if it
failed in gain a majority in a confidence vote. President Zeman had said
earlier in a speech to lawmakers that he would leave the cabinet in place
until a criminal investigation into a scandal which brought down the
previous government wrapped up.
The collapse of 101-majority on the centre-right also raised the chance of early elections; previously the centre-right coalition led by Miroslava Němcová maintained it could form a government if given the opportunity. Two members within her party, however, abstained in the confidence vote. On Wednesday evening, the Rusnok cabinet received 93 votes in favour and 100 against.
In related news, Karolína Peake resigned on Thursday as the leader of LIDEM, which was the smallest party under the previous government. Mrs Peake, who left the Chamber ahead of Wednesday’s confidence vote, said she had decided to step down as she held different views on basic issues from most of the grouping’s seven other MPs. LIDEM formed in April last year as a splinter group from the Public Affairs party, which rose to prominence quickly but quit the coalition after becoming embroiled in scandal.
Jan Florián, one of two MPs who broke Civic Democrat ranks during Wednesday’s confidence vote, has quit the party. In a statement released to the media and posted on facebook, the MP laid blame for his party’s loss of voters with former chairman Petr Nečas as well as former Prague mayor Bohuslav Svoboda. He slammed both for, in his view, leading the party to the brink, while praising former leaders Mirek Topolánek and Václav Klaus. Both Florián and MP Tomáš Úlehla were expelled from the Civic Democratic Party’s deputies’ club on Wednesday evening in response to their actions.
Deputies’ club leader for TOP 09 Petr Gazdík has said that his party will not consider a coalition with the Social Democrats after early elections are held. He told journalists on Thursday that TOP 09 aimed to remain a reliable party on the centre-right. Mr Gazdík also charged that the Social Democrats were under full sway of the country’s president, Miloš Zeman, and he said his party would fight to defend the country’s parliamentary system, which some critics see as increasingly threatened by the president. On Wednesday, TOP 09 deputy leader Miroslav Kalousek argued that the president was trying to change the system to an autocratic one.
The Social Democrats – like other parties in the Czech Republic – have begun preparing for elections to be held either in October or early November. According to ČTK, the party will pick candidates in August and present a policy programme in September. The party will run its own campaign which its leader said would be positive and transparent. Polls for months have suggested that the Social Democrats have a major advantage and are likely to win. The party also won in 2010 but was unable to find a viable partner to form a government.
An undisclosed source in the leadership of the right-of-centre Civic
Democratic Party has told the Czech News Agency that the party should be
jointly-led in the run-up to early elections by acting chairman Martin
and former candidate for prime minister Miroslava Němcová, who could be
the face of the Civic Democrats in the upcoming election campaign. The
source also told the agency that the party would strive for non-party
candidates to head ballots. Previously, former education minister Petr
Fiala was discussed.
The Civic Democrats, following Wednesday’s confidence vote, are seen as having fallen into their deepest crisis in 22 years of existence. Polls have repeatedly shown them losing ground to TOP 09 on the political right. Some political analysts have suggested that only defeat in the election will release the party from the clutches of so-called party godfathers long said to be pulling the strings from behind-the-scenes.