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ANO candidate for broadcasting council pulls out over lack of support

Petr Štěpánek has withdrawn his candidature for membership of the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting. A number of opposition politicians had called on governing party ANO to rescind Mr. Štěpánek’s nomination and on Tuesday a number of its MPs, including Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, said they would not back him in a vote on Wednesday.

Opposition parties had slammed his nomination due to the fact that Mr. Štěpánek had spoken about wishing to blow up public broadcaster Czech Television, which he referred to as a criminal organisation.

Around 200 people protested against Mr. Štěpánek’s appointment outside the Czech lower house on Monday.

Winning design of new Prague bridge announced

Prague’s leaders have selected the winner of an architectural competition for a new bridge across the Vltava. The structure is set to connect Dvorce on the east bank of the river in Prague 4 and Lihovar, which is south of Smíchov train station on the west bank. The winning design was submitted by the Tubes and Atelier 6 studios.

The future Dvorecký Bridge will cost around CZK 1 billon, officials say. However, no date has been set for the launch of construction. The architects say they were inspired by Cubism and that the structure should blend in with the banks of the Vltava.

Poche to leave foreign ministry

The Social Democratic Party’s unsuccessful candidate for foreign minister Miroslav Poche will leave his post at the foreign ministry as soon as a new foreign minister has been appointed, the party’s new nominee for the post, Deputy Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček told journalists on Tuesday.

The announcement came following a meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Babiš who is to discuss Petříček’s nomination with President Zeman later today.

Poche, whom the president refused to appoint foreign minister on the grounds of his pro-migrant views, has been serving in the post of political secretary at the ministry and chief aide to acting foreign minister, Jan Hamáček.

President Zeman has already signaled that he considers the party’s new nominee for the post of foreign minister acceptable.

Divisive security Committee chief receives classified-level clearance

The divisive chairman of the lower house’s Security Committee, Radek Koten of Freedom and Direct Democracy, received classified category security clearance last week, the head of his party’s deputies club, Radim Fiala, said on Tuesday. Mr. Fiala also hit out at MPs who questioned Mr. Koten’s credentials for the position over his activities on social media.

Mr. Koten had promised to acquire the clearance when he was elected to head the Security Committee in November. His application for classified-level clearance means the committee will not have access to documents deemed top secret.

The Freedom and Direct Democracy politician allegedly joined Facebook groups calling for a referendum on the Czech Republic leaving the EU, referring to Islam as a fatal evil and naming Russia as the Czech Republic’s ally. He said he did not administer his Facebook page.

Study: Czechs must save longer than other Europeans to buy property

It takes Czechs considerably longer on average to save to purchase an apartment than people in other European states, suggests a new study produced by consultants Deloitte.

Comparing 12 states last year, the report found that a new flat in the Czech Republic is equivalent to 11.3 years of average pay. Belgians, meanwhile, need the equivalent of 3.7 years’ salary to cover the price of a property of 70 metres squared.

A lack of new apartments on the market is one factor forcing property prices up in the Czech Republic, said a representative of Deloitte. Mortgage regulations, lengthy permit procedures, high taxation and consumer sentiment are other factors.

Veterinary Authority withdraws order for African swine fever tests

Following consultations with the European Commission, the State Veterinary Authority has reversed its order for imported pork products to undergo tests for African swine fever.

The special measures concerned imports from countries where African swine fever has been confirmed and were to have come into effect this week.

The European Commission protested against the decision on the grounds that it would destabilize the trade in pork.

It moreover pointed out that in all of the states concerned, African swine fever had only been detected in wild boar, not in commercial pig farms.

Weather forecast

It should be wet with some bright spells in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, with temperatures of up to 14 degrees Celsius. Daytime highs should climb to around 20 degrees Celsius at the weekend.