Czechs go to the polls on Friday to vote in Senate and regional elections. Voters will choose assemblies in 13 of the country’s 14 regions – with the exception of Prague. Voting is held in conjunction with elections to a third of the Senate. Polling stations will be open from 2pm until 10 pm on Friday and from 8am until 2pm on Saturday. Altogether 270 parties and movements are competing in the regional elections, 233 candidates are running for seats in the Senate. Of the latter 19 senators are running for re-election. The regional elections are expected to be primarily a contest between the established parties and are being viewed as a litmus test for the 2017 general elections.
The Czech National Bank announced Friday the volume of its foreign currency interventions in August aimed at sustaining its low crown policy. The bank said it spent 28.6 billion crowns buying euros. That’s the second biggest monthly total for intervention this year, exceeded only by the 58.2 billion crown total for January. The bank is aiming to keep the crown at a rate of 27 crowns to the euro or lower under a policy started in November 2013. The rate of intervention is a sign of what sort of upward pressures on the crown the bank is forced to resist.
The Catholic charity in the Czech diocese of Olomouc on Friday launched a collection for the hurricane struck island of Haiti. The charity, ACHO, described the damage wrought by Hurricane Matthew as the worst natural disaster to hit the poor country since the earthquake and following cholera epidemic of 2010. Destruction on the island has so far caused around 340 deaths and destroyed crops, homes, and infrastructure on the island, often reckoned to be one of the poorest states in the world. The Czech charity intends to send two humanitarian workers to the island in the next week to work out where help can best be directed. It has already been active in Haiti for more than a decade.
Two managers of the power giant ČEZ have been charged with fraud over the licencing of a solar power plant in Čekanice, South Bohemia. The accused allegedly gave the plant final building approval although it was far from completed so that the owner could get a higher purchase price for electricity. ČEZ has refrained from commenting on the case. Police are investigating similar cases of fraud in connection with dozens of other solar power plants around the country.
The Czech trade balance in August recorded a surplus of 13.8 billion crowns (around 511 million euros). That compares with a deficit of 1.7 billion in the same month a year earlier. The biggest factors in the turnaround were higher exports of machinery and cars and lower spending on imported oil and other fuels. The trade surplus with other EU countries reached 47.9 billion crowns. The surplus so far this year runs to 146.6 billion crowns, a 55 billion crown advance on the first eight months of 2015.
Czech industrial production rebounded in August with a 13.1 percent rise compared with the same month in 2015. That follows the 14.1 percent production drop in July. Part of the change is accounted for the extra number of working days in August, factoring out that distortion the year on year rise shrinks to 7.7 percent, the Czech Statistical Office announced. Higher car production was one of the main factors in the latest figures. On the negative side, pharamacutical production was down by around 16 percent.
A Czech suspected of being involved in sex crimes with dozens of children has been arrested in Slovakia, police announced on Friday. The 21-year old from Děčín in northern Bohemia faces seven criminal charges and a prison sentence of up to 12 years. Around 150 children, some as young as seven, are said to have been involved in the crimes. The children were allegedly contacted using social web sites with the man threatening to release compromising photos of them if they refused to follow his orders.
The weather on Saturday is expected to be sunny with some cloudy intervals. Top temperatures are expected to reach 12 degrees Celsius. The same situation is expected to continue on Sunday.