President Miloš Zeman has selected two more nominees for Constitutional Court judges to replace those whose term in office expires in the coming months. They are Jiří Zemánek, an expert on European law and current Constitutional Court judge Jan Musil who would be considered for re-election. The nominations will need to be approved by the Senate by January 10th of 2014.
Communist Party leader Vojtěch Filip met with President Miloš Zeman at Lány Chateau on Thursday for talks on the post-election situation. The Communists, who came third in the early general elections, had hoped for a bigger role in national politics, but those hopes were dashed by the Social Democrats’ lackluster victory in the elections meaning that the two parties together do not have a majority in the lower house. The Communists, whose coalition potential is extremely limited, will be the strongest opposition party in the Chamber of Deputies.
Former prime minister Petr Nečas was called in for questioning in the case against his former chief-of-staff and now wife Jana Nagyová Nečasová on Thursday morning, but refused to give testimony. Mrs. Nečasová is accused of abuse of power for allegedly ordering the Military Intelligence last year to spy on Mr. Nečas’ then wife Radka. This was one of the scandals that caused the resignation of Mr. Nečas and his government this summer, after Mrs. Nagyová and a number of other high-ranking officials were unexpectedly arrested in June. Mr. Nečas was the last person the police planned to question in the case.
The outgoing finance minister Jan Fisher has rejected speculation that he is to be the country’s new ambassador to Luxembourg as of February 2014. The report appeared in Thursday’s Hospodarské Noviny which claimed that according to unnamed diplomatic sources Mr. Fischer was the only candidate for the post. The Czech Embassy in Luxembourg was closed at the end of 2012 within broad austerity measures introduced by the then centre-right government but the country’s new foreign minister, Jan Kohout, ordered its reopening, based on new foreign policy priorities.
The defense team for the American Kevin Dahlgren, accused of killing four people in Brno this spring, has filed an appeal challenging his detention. A ruling on the legality of Dahlgren’s arrest and detention will not be made before mid-February. The appeal will further delay a decision on the suspect’s possible extradition to the Czech Republic. Kevin Dahlgren is accused of murdering four Czech relatives with whom he was staying in Brno. He fled to Vienna and boarded a flight to Washington DC where he was arrested on arrival.
Czech Airlines has announced it will renew direct flights from Prague to Bratislava as of December 2013. The airline is planning three flights a week in the winter months and double that number in the summer season. Direct flights between the Czech and Slovak capitals were curtailed in 2011 for financial reasons. The price of a return ticket for the hour-long flight will be close to 2,000 crowns.
The Social Democratic chairman Bohuslav Sobotka met with President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday afternoon for the first time since the October elections. Since the Social Democrats received the most votes in the elections, it is expected that the president will most likely charge Mr. Sobotka with putting together the next government. During the Wednesday meeting the president did not do so, though speaking after the meeting, Mr. Sobotka said he expects this to happen next week. Mr. Zeman said earlier this week that he does not want to confirm a new government before he recovers from his recent knee injury. Mr. Sobotka delayed the traditional meeting with the president for two weeks after the general elections, because of an upheaval in the party right after the elections.
Representatives of the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats failed to agree on substantive issues during their first talks on forming a coalition government on Tuesday. The main differences between the two parties are over a church restitution law and corporation tax. However, members of the negotiating teams said they had found common ground on the introduction of property declarations and registered checkout tills. The Social Democrats, who came first in elections last month, had previously held coalition talks with ANO, who finished second.
Leaders of the miners’ unions have reached an agreement with the management of the coal mining company OKD on a new collective contract until 2018. OKD employees called off a series of major strikes planned for the upcoming weeks. The unions threatened strikes primarily because the company was unwilling to meet their demands on employee bonuses. The agreement negotiations, which have been going on for the past 13 months, were further complicated by the austerity measures that OKD, a subsidiary of New World Resources (NWR), began introducing this year in response to a worsening situation on the coal market.
ANO party chairman and businessman Andrej Babiš is considering making the publishing house MAFRA, which he purchased earlier this year, a publicly traded company. On Wednesday, Mr. Babiš said that before this happens, he is also planning to make other purchases in the media sector. He wants to be a minority shareholder in any of his traded companies. Mr. Babiš also owns the holding company Agrofert, which is one of the largest firms in the Czech Republic by revenue.