Potential partners at Prague City Hall ANO, the Social Democrats and the Three-Party coalition will meet at the end of the week for negotiations on a new coalition, the Czech News Agency reports. Prague Social Democrat leader Miloslav Ludvík (the head of Motol Hospital) said that ANO and Social Democrats representatives had found no major hurdles when comparing programmes. ANO won the municipal elections in Prague at the weekend, securing 17 seats, just ahead of right-of-centre party TOP 09, with whom they said they would not cooperate. If ANO, the Social Democrats and the Three-Party coalition (which includes the Greens) reach deal, they will hold a slim majority of 33 seats out of 65 at Prague City Hall.
The prime minister and head of the Social Democratic Party Bohuslav Sobotka has expressed regret over statements by ANO leader Andrej Babiš suggesting that the ANO movement was not interested in forming coalitions with the Social Democrats in the cities of Brno and Ostrava, that would have mirrored cooperation between the two parties at the national level. The prime minister called Mr Babiš’ statements about Brno and Ostrava after the weekend's municipal election results “short-sighted” and suggested coalitions with his own party would lead to greater stability. He also suggested indirectly to the Czech News Agency that ANO needed to ask its negotiators what went wrong in Olomouc, where ANO finished first but were left with a Pyrrhic victory after a deal there was quickly struck between local Social Democrats, TOP 09, and the Civic and Christian Democrats.
The Czech coal mining company OKD will dismiss 300 people at the end of 2014, mainly office staff and mostly of retirement or pre-retirement age, OKD's spokesman Marek Šibrt told the Czech News Agency on Monday. Employees laid off will receive six months wages as severance pay. Mr Šibrt told ČTK that the goal was to make OKD's operation more streamlined and effective for the business to become more sustainable and competitive even in extraordinarily difficult conditions on current black coal markets. OKD is controlled by company New World Resources (NWR). It has been grappling low coal prices for some time, forcing it to introduce austerity measures.
The trial of Marek Dalík, former prime minister Mirek Topolánek’s advisor, over the corruption case involving the purchase of armoured vehicles for the Czech Army from the Austrian arms company Steyr, continued in Prague on Monday. Prague’s Municipal Court heard a key witness, former manager at the Steyr company. Mr Dalík, faces criminal charges over allegedly demanding a bribe of 500 million crowns to ensure that the lucrative order was won by the Austrian firm. The deal was eventually signed in 2009.
The 18th Forum 2000 international conference got underway in Prague on Sunday. This year’s event is subtitled “Democracy and its Discontents: A Quarter-Century after the Iron Curtain and Tiananmen”, and one of its main issues is growing aggression by Russia. Speaking at the opening of the conference was Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former Russian oligarch who was imprisoned under the Putin regime. He said that the Russian democratic movement needed the cultivated influence of the Western countries, calling on the EU and the US to be cautious with their use of sanctions.
Former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, the head of the rightest TOP 09 and former chancellor to the late Václav Havel, along with former Slovak prime minister Iveta Radičová, took part in a panel discussion on Monday at Forum 2000 underway in the Czech capital. Monday’s discussion was chaired by the French Czech-born political scientist Jacques Rupnik. In the discussion, Mr Schwarzenberg suggested that Europe was tired of democracy represented by boring, gray and what many consider to be largely interchangeable politicians; he added that Mr Putin might awaken Europe from its lethargy. Ms Radičová stated that, in her view, democracy was most threatened by calls for stronger states at the expense of individual rights or freedoms. This year the overriding theme of Forum 2000 is Democracy and its Discontents, 25 years after the fall of communism in Europe.
Health officials in the Czech Republic at the weekend were alerted to suspected cases of Ebola, one in Karlovy Vary, the other in Prague. Both scares proved unfounded. The police and health officials were alerted to the presence of a student from Ghana with reported cold symptoms who failed to wait for health clearance at Prague’s international airport; he was stopped at the main railway station, which was partially closed off before he was transferred to hospital. Ghana is not among the countries hit by the Ebola outbreak; shortly afterwards the man was released. The woman in Karlovy Vary was transferred in a special bio transport bag to Bulovka Hospital in Prague equipped to handle infectious diseases. She was reportedly in Nigeria in August, but Ebola has an incubation period of up to around 21 days; she too was cleared. The country earlier saw two others hospitalized for possible infection; both tested negative for the deadly disease.
The captain of the Czech Fed Cup team Petr Pála has nominated silver medal doubles winners from the London Olympics, Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká, as well as Karolína Plíšková to play in the upcoming Fed Cup final. They join top Czech women’s player Petra Kvitova and Lucie Šafářová. The final is set at Prague’s O2 Arena on November 8 and 9. The Czech Republic is facing Germany for the Fed Cup title.
The national football squad defeated Kazakhstan in Astana on Monday in European football championship qualifying by a score of 4:2. The Czech Republic has won all three of its qualifying matches so far, also beating Turkey and the Netherlands to put them on 9 points in Group A.