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Czechs vote in municipal, Senate elections

Czechs go to the polls on Friday and Saturday to cast their ballots in municipal elections and elections to one third of the Senate, the upper house of Parliament. A second round of voting in the Senate elections will take place next weekend, for contestants who fail to win 50 percent of the vote.

The elections are seen as a test of the ruling ANO party’s ability to win support at the local level. The Civic Democrats and Pirates are hoping to extend their gains made in last year's national elections, while other major parties including the Social Democrats and TOP 09 are fighting for survival.

Many analysts are predicting a redrawing of political allegiances and a major consolidation on the right, after the elections.

Josef Jařab awarded Vize 97 Prize

Translator and former Senator Josef Jařab has been selected for the 20th award of the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97. The award is presented annually on October 5th – the late president Václav Havel’s birthday.

Mr. Jařab is a professor of English and American literature at Palacký University in Olomouc. He was the first chairman of the Czech Fulbright Committee and the National Association for American Studies.

Aleš Michl set to replace Mojmír Hampl on Czech National Bank board

Economist Aleš Michl, an external advisor to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, is set to become the newest member of the Czech National Bank board in November.

He will replace central bank vice governor Mojmír Hampl, whose second and final term expires next month. Board member Vladimír Tomšík will also be stepping down shortly, but no candidate to replace him has yet been announced.

Analysts say Michl could be among the so-called hawks on the board, meaning an advocate of interest rate hikes. In the past, he has often come out in favour of a stronger crown and criticized forex interventions by the central bank.

Office of President Zeman rejects ERRC complaint over alleged racist remarks

The Office of President Miloš Zeman has rejected a complaint by the European Roma Rights Centre that the Czech head of state’s recent statements about the work ethic of Romania people was racist and undermines democratic values.

Zeman said last week that while he was no fan of communism, at least under that system “the Roma were forced to work”.

In response, thousands of Romani people have posted pictures of themselves at their jobs as part of a social media campaign initiated by community member Štefan Pongo and supported by the Romea organisation.

Zeman said on Friday that he was happy to have “received photos from some of the 10 percent of Roma who work”.

Poll: Unemployment dropped to 3.1 percent in September

Unemployment dropped slightly in September, according to a poll of analysts by the Czech News Agency. Official statistics from the Labour Office show unemployment stood at 3.1 percent in August.

The consensus among analysts is unemployment dropped a further 0.1 percent last month due to regular seasonal factors, namely an increase in hiring after the summer months. The Labour Office is due to publish official figures on October 8.

Czech soldiers returning from Mali mission to receive medals

Some 40 Czech soldiers returning home from a six-month mission in Mali are due to be awarded medals for service abroad on Friday.

They had been serving in the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in Mali, supporting the African country’s armed forces in suppressing an insurgency, alongside soldiers from France, Germany and Spain.

Their main task had been to guard the EU mission’s headquarters and provide security to officials.

China Open: Kateřina Siniaková loses to Caroline Wozniacki

Czech tennis player Kateřina Siniaková was defeated 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the China Open by Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.

Still competing in Beijing are two Czech women’s doubles teams: that of Barbora Krejčíková with Kateřina Siniaková, and Andrea Sestini Hlaváčková with Barbora Strýcová.

Weather outlook

Saturday should be clear to partly cloudy with daytime highs of 18 to 22 degrees Celsius. Overnight, occasional showers are expected. Rain is in the forecast throughout the country on Sunday.