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SocDem leader Jan Hamáček calls for party confidence vote

Social Democrat chairman Jan Hamáček has called for a vote of confidence in the party’s Executive Committee to be held on Saturday, October 21.

Hamáček said he needs confirmation that party members agree on his agenda in the wake of poor showings in the recent municipal and Senate elections.

The Social Democrats failed to defend all but one of the 13 seats in the upper house being contested while their senior partner in the coalition government, the ANO party of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, secured only one new mandate in the 81-seat chamber.

The opposition Civic Democrats and Christian Democrats have 16 and 15 seats in the Senate, respectively, while the Social Democrats now have 13 and ANO have only seven.

Poll: Italians, Czechs most likely to vote for EU exit

Italians and Czechs would be the least likely to vote to remain in the EU if a referendum were held now, Euobserver reports, citing an as-yet unpublished Eurobarometer poll.

According to the poll, circulated to some media on Wednesday, only 44 percent of Italians and 47 percent of Czechs would vote to stay in the bloc. In no other EU member state did that figure fall below 50 percent.

A majority of 53 percent in the UK, which voted for Brexit in a 2016 referendum, would now vote to remain in the EU, the survey also found.

Government agrees to bolster police force, notes rise in cybercrime

The government has approved the hiring of 1,000 new police officers to bolster the current force of 40,000.

The aim, according to Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (Social Democrat), is to ensure that the Czech Republic remains among the most secure countries in the world.

About 150 of the new positions will be assigned to specialised police units tasked with fighting cybercrime, terrorism and extremism, or financial crime.

The overall crime rate has dropped about 7 percent last year in annual terms, but instances of cybercrime and online fraud rose by some 6 percent.

Mortgage applications surged in September, average rate rose

The average mortgage interest rate rose in September to 2.57 percent from 2.53 percent in August, according to Fincentrum Hypoindex.

Despite higher rates, the number of applicants surged as people sought to get mortgages before tougher lending guidelines came into effect on October 1.

Under the new guidelines set by the Czech National Bank, a borrower should not be eligible for a loan greater than nine times their annual net income or have to spend over 45 percent of their monthly net income to service the debt.

Czech erotic portal fraudster gets reduced sentence

An appeals court has reduced to seven years a prison sentence handed down to a Czech woman who defrauded a Norwegian man out of 53 million crowns. They had met on an online portal offering erotic services.

The woman, then 27, had asked her 60-year-old victim for loans for various things, such as to pay for knee surgery, to buy a car and purchase food for her cat, convincing the Norwegian she would pay him back later.

After havving been sentenced to eight years in prison for fraud the woman, Barbora Havířová, immediately filed an appeal.

The decision of the High Court of Appeal in Olomouc reduced her sentence by one year, a spokesperson for the Court of First Instance in Brno said. The judgment is final.

Government increases transport infrastructure spending for 2018

The Czech government has increased the budget for transport infrastructure next year to CZK 86.3 billion, its press office said on Wednesday morning. The amount to be spent on construction and renovation of the country’s road and rail networks will be CZK 14 billion higher than in 2018.

Cabinet members have also given the green light to Strategic Framework 2030, a plan whose objective is described as to improve the quality of life of all inhabitants of the Czech Republic while respecting natural limits.

Czechs lose 1:0 to Ukraine in Nations League

The Czech Republic’s footballers were beaten 1:0 away by Ukraine on Tuesday night. Though losing their second game under new coach Jaroslav Šilhavý, the Czechs won plaudits for their style of play.

The result means Ukraine have won group B1 and the Czechs are now competing with Slovakia to avoid relegation to a lower level of the Nations League; a draw against the Slovaks in Prague next month would secure their place and offer the possibility of a place at Euro 2020.

Weather outlook

Thursday should be partly cloudy throughout most of the country, with occasional light showers expected in the Krkonoše Mountains. Daytime highs should be between 16 to 20 degrees Celsius.