The Czech Republic is one step closer to early general elections, after President Václav Klaus and Prime Minister Jan Fischer signed a constitutional amendment on the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies and an amendment to the election law that shortens certain election deadlines. The amendments were approved by both houses of Parliament on Friday. They will enter into force as of Monday.
Under a plan agreed by the main political parties, the Chamber of Deputies will dissolve itself on Tuesday and the president will call elections on November 6 and 7.
Elections had been called for October 8 and 9. However, they were cancelled by the Constitutional Court, which upheld a complaint by independent MP Miloš Melčák that a one-off amendment allowing for them was unlawful. Mr Melčák and another independent MP Juraj Raninec have said they may take the second constitutional amendment back to the court. However, Christian Democrat leader Cyril Svoboda pointed out on Sunday that once the lower house is dissolved they will lose the right to appeal to the Constitutional Court.
The Czech Republic has had an interim government since May. There are concerns that a failure to form a new political government in the near future would have serious consequences for the country’s budget for next year; if a 2010 budget is not approved in time, a provisional budget without needed spending cuts would enter into force.
The entire supervisory board of the troubled Czech Airlines will be removed at a CSA annual meeting on Monday, the minister of finance, Eduard Janota, said on a TV debate programme on Sunday. Two members of the supervisory board stepped down voluntarily on Friday. Mr Janota also said he would hold meetings on Monday with union leaders from CSA. They have refused to accept pay cuts proposed by the management of the airline, which is in serious trouble after recording record losses in the first half of this year. The government is set to decide next month on whether to accept a bid from the only company remaining in a tender to privatise CSA. Minister Janota has said if the sell-off does not go ahead, the state would be unwilling to bail out the airline should it go bankrupt.
Police in Prague have arrested 24 squatters who moved into a building in the city’s Albertov district on Saturday. On Saturday afternoon and evening around 70 arrests were made when squatters and their supporters clashed with police as they attempted to gain access to the empty building. Some of those arrested had been evicted from a well-known Prague squat known as Milada in June.
Over 60,000 people attended an open-air concert by the Czech rock band Kabát in Prague’s Vypich district on Saturday night. According to the CTK news agency, it was the biggest concert ever played in the capital by a Czech group. The show marked the 20th anniversary of the foundation of Kabát, who in recent years have become one of the most popular musical acts in the country.
Two of the Czech Republic’s leading athletes took silver medals at the World Athletics Final in Greece’s Thessaloniki on Saturday. Olympic champion Barbora Špotáková finished second in the women’s javelin, while the Czech record holder Jaroslav Bába came second in the men’s high jump. Špotáková, who also took silver at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin, said she was satisfied with her performance, as she was with the whole season.
The Child of Prague, a statuette revered by Roman Catholics around the world, is set to receive a gift from Pope Benedict XVI when he visits the Czech Republic in two weeks’ time. The pontiff is set to place a new gold crown on the statuette when he visits Prague’s Church of Our Lady Victorious at the start of a three-day stay. The clothing on the Child of Prague is regularly changed; it is reported to have around 100 outfits, many of which have been donated by worshippers. Pope Benedict is also going to serve large open-air masses at Stará Boleslav in Bohemia and the Moravian capital Brno during a visit which runs from September 26 to 28.
Tučín in Moravia has been named Czech village of the year. As well as the title, Tučín – population 455 – also receives a two-million-crown grant. Second in this year’s competition was Lány in central Bohemia, followed by Žernov in eastern Bohemia. This is the 15th year of the village of the year awards, with the main criterion the quality of local projects that encourage community spirit.
We should see sunny spells with some rain over the coming days. Forecasters say maximum temperatures will reach 23 degrees Celsius.