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Four parties unite ahead of first lower house session

The Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents have formed a group called Democratic Bloc with a view to taking a common position when the first session of the new Chamber of Deputies is held next Monday.

The parties said on Wednesday that they would not vote for ANO’s Radek Vondráček as speaker of the lower house and would demand two deputy speakers posts and the leadership of seven committees.

The Civic Democrats’ chairman Petr Fiala said he had planned to run for the post of speaker but that this was now pointless as ANO, the Communists, Freedom and Direct Democracy and the Pirates were going to back Mr. Vondráček.

TOP O9’s Miroslav Kalousek said it would now be clear who supported what he called the "project" of ANO chief Andrej Babiš and President Miloš Zeman. ANO won last month’s elections with almost 30 percent of the vote and are working on forming a minority government.

Le Pen to appear at December event with Okamura in Prague

The head of France’s far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, is due to appear at a conference in Prague alongside Tomio Okamura of the Czech Republic’s Freedom and Direct Democracy party early next month, Aktuálně.cz reported on Wednesday.

The news site said that another anti-European Union and anti-migrant politician, Geert Wilders of the Dutch Party for Freedom, may also speak at the conference. The event’s date and venue have not been announced.

Freedom and Direct Democracy are associated with the Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the European Parliament, which includes the parties of Le Pen and Wilders.

Eleven would-be candidates for president ruled out

Only nine people will stand for the post of Czech president in elections in January after 11 would-be candidates were found to have deficiencies in their applications, Czech Television reported on Wednesday. The eleven have been given eight days to rectify the shortcomings. However, they have effectively been disqualified as the Ministry of the Interior said there was insufficient time for them to do so.

Among those in the running are the incumbent Miloš Zeman, former prime minister Mirek Topolánek and academic Jiří Drahoš.

Bank and insurance workers declare strike alert over pay

Staff at Czech banks and insurance offices have declared a state of strike alert over their pay conditions. The OSPPP banking and insurance workers union announced the move in response to what they say is the unwillingness of their employers to agree to an acceptable collective agreement.

A spokesperson for the union said protests would be held at individual banks and insurance offices. The OSPPP has around 8,000 members in a sector in which tens of thousands are employed.

Sauna owner gets suspended sentence over deaths

The owner of a sauna in which two women died earlier this year received a suspended sentence from a court in Jičín on Wednesday. The women, who were a mother and daughter aged 65 and 45, died after being unable to exit the sauna after the door handle broke and they were unable to break a window.

The sauna, which had not received building approval, was in a garden colony and was used by the owner and his friends. He was fined CZK 5,341 in connection with the deaths.

Police to announce breakthrough in Kvitová attack case

The police have made a breakthrough in their investigation into an attack on tennis star Petra Kvitová at her home last December, the Czech News Agency reported. They are due to make an announcement at a news conference on Thursday but the news is not believed to relate to the capture of her assailant.

Two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitová required extensive surgery after a knife attack in her apartment building that left her with severe injuries on her main playing hand.

Weather forecast

It should be cloudy with some sunny spells in the Czech Republic on Thursday, with temperatures of up to 5 degrees Celsius expected. The following days are expected to see rain and snow in some parts of the country.