More potential candidates have emerged for the post of chairman of the Social Democrats. Acting leader Bohuslav Sobotka and Michal Hašek announced their candidatures soon after the resignation of former chair Jiří Paroubek in May. They have now been joined by Martin Pecina, who has already received one nomination, while Lubomír Zaoralek told one of Wednesday’s newspapers he was considering standing, and the party’s recent candidate for Prague mayor Jiří Dientsbier Jr said he would not rule out running for the position. It will be decided by delegates at a Social Democrats conference in March.
The Social Democrats, who finished first in general elections in May, would again win if a vote was held now, suggests a new SANEP poll. Some 29.3 percent of respondents in the internet-based survey said they would cast their ballots for the party. The poll indicates that TOP 09 would finish second with 18.7 percent, just shading their rivals on the right, the Civic Democrats. The Communists would finish fourth on 13.7 percent, followed by Public Affairs on 8.3, while the Christian Democrats would return to the lower house with 5.7 percent support, the survey suggests.
The Czech minister of education, Josef Dobeš, says a decree on increasing the integration of Romany children into regular Czech schools will be prepared by January for approval in the New Year. Mr Dobeš made the statement a day after non-governmental organisations complained that enough was still not being done to combat racial discrimination against Romany pupils. Three years after the European Court of Human Rights found the Czech state guilty of such discrimination for sending many Romany children to schools for the mentally handicapped, the NGOs have threatened to take fresh legal action against the country if more progress is not made.
Around 1,300 Czech Roman Catholics who have made a three-day pilgrimage to the Vatican had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI at St Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday. The group presented a valuable hand-made Bible to the pontiff, who thanked them for the welcome he had received on a visit to the Czech Republic last year. As well as senior figures in the Czech Catholic church, the delegation included the country’s foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, and the wife of President Václav Klaus, Livia.
The number of regular, long-term users of intravenous drugs in the Czech Republic rose by 5,000 to 37,500 last year, according to government figures. The data is based on the estimates of experts in the field and was released on Wednesday in an annual report by the National Drug and Drug Addiction Monitoring Centre. Around two-thirds of the country’s hard drug users consume meta-amphetamine, with the rest taking heroin, the survey said. Forty-nine drug deaths were recorded last year. Almost five million syringes were distributed within state-organised exchange programmes.
Past and present members of the small Prague theatre Studio Ypsilon have marked its 45th anniversary with a reunion. Around 40 of the actors that have passed through the institution gathered to celebrate its anniversary on Tuesday night, among them Martin Dejdar, Jiří Lábus, Mark Eben and Jiří Schmitzer. An hour of edited highlights will be screened on Czech Television on New Year’s Eve. Studio Ypsilon started out as an experimental theatre in Liberec putting on mainly puppet shows, before moving to the capital in 1990.
The Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has made it into the third round of the Paris Masters after beating France’s Florent Serru 6-3 6-1 in just 47 minutes on Tuesday evening. That result increases Berdych’s chances of reaching the prestigious season-ending World Tour Finals in London; the competition features the top eight players of the year and the 25-year-old currently occupies sixth spot. His compatriot Radek Štěpánek is also into the round of 16 in Paris, following a 7-6 6-4 win over Nicolas Amalgro of Spain.
The Czech football manager Michal Bílek has given first call-ups to Jan Rezek of Viktoria Plzeň and Michal Hubník of Sigma Olomouc for a friendly against Denmark in a week’s time. However, 18-year-old Václav Kadlec of Sparta Prague, who scored on his full international debut last month, will join the Czech Under 21s during the upcoming international break. The Czech Republic are second in their qualifying group to reach Euro 2012, behind reigning champions Spain.
The foremost Czech contemporary boxer Lukáš Konečný is set to defend his European title in front of home fans in Prague next month, it was announced on Wednesday. The 32-year-old will face the Armenian fighter Hamlet Petrosyan on December 3 in a voluntary defence, with a compulsory bout against England’s Ryan Rhodes to take place next year. Konečný became the first Czech professional boxer to win a European title when he took the light middleweight crown from the British boxer Matthew Hall in September.
We can expect rain over the next couple of days, with temperatures reaching a maximum of 13 degrees Celsius.