The opposition Social Democrats have regained a majority in the upper house of Parliament after Jiří Dienstbier Jr. won a seat vacated by his late father. Mr Dienstbier Jr. defeated on Saturday Civic Democrat Dan Jiránek in the second round of voting for a Senate seat representing the Kladno district, central Bohemia, winning over 65 percent of the vote. The turnout at the polls was less than 18 percent. Mr Dienstbier succeeds in the post the late Senator Jiří Dienstbier, the country’s first post-communist foreign minister, who passed away in January, aged 73.
Jiří Dienstbier Jr.’s victory means the Social Democrats now have 41 seats in the 81-seat Senate. However, any veto from the opposition-controlled Senate can be overturned by the lower house whether the ruling right-of-centre coalition has a comfortable majority of 118 MPs.
The 2011 housing and population census officially began at Friday midnight which is the point of reference on which responses are to be based. On-line census forms were made available; more than 280, 000 Czechs have since filled them in, and the authorities expect around three million people will do so in the coming days. The distribution of paper forms began three weeks ago; people have until April, 14 to hand them in. The census’ results should be announced in September.
A 50-year-old man died after he was hit by a cargo train near Adamov, some 15 km north of Brno, in southern Moravia, on Saturday morning. The accident has disrupted traffic on a major Czech railway line, causing up to 90-minute delays on some Budapest-, Vienna- and Berlin-bound international trains. A Czech Railways spokesman said all traffic should be restored to normal by Saturday afternoon.
Some 1,000 anti-abortion activists marched through the centre of Prague on Saturday. The march, organized by a pro-life Czech association, was preceded by a Roman Catholic mass one of the city’s churches, celebrated by the Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka. Organizers said 25,000 abortions were carried out in the Czech Republic last year, while more 3.3 than million children were not born since 1957 when abortions were legalized in the country.
The Czech Republic, along with the rest of the European Union, will switch to summertime or daylight-saving time on Sunday, March 27 when clocks will go forward by one hour at 2:00 Central European Time. Czech Railways have warned passengers that the scheduled arrival and departure of 15 long-distance trains will be “delayed” by an hour by the time shift. Summer time ends on Sunday, October 30 when the clocks fall an hour back.
Prague’s ZOO opened its 80th season on Saturday, with a special programme to celebrate the occasion. The guests, including Prague’s Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, the writer František Janouch, and other will name a couple of blue iguanas. The ZOO’s director, Miroslav Bobek said visitors would also have a chance to see a set of renovated wooden huts designed in the 1920’s by the architect Josef Gočár. The ZOO has organized a series of lectures and other events to mark the anniversary. The ZOO first opened in the Trója district of the capital on September 28, 1931; the first animal to arrive was a she-wolf named Lotta that was captured in the eastern-most part of then Czechoslovakia.
A section of the 16th century city walls in Hradec Králové, in eastern Bohemia, collapsed on Saturday. Firefighters pulled several vehicles out of the rubble; no one was hurt in the accident. The collapsed section of the historic city walls is located on the western edge of the city centre; there were no prior signs of structural damage, Hradec Králové mayor said. However, the city last year started a major reconstruction of the walls due to their poor state.
A man was taken to a Brno hospital on Saturday with serious burns after his house caught fire in the community of Kvasice, in eastern Moravia. A spokesman for the fire brigade said the home owner’s negligence was the most likely cause of the fire that destroyed part of the living area. The man’s condition was reported as stable. It took fire fighters about an hour to extinguish the flames.
The Czech national football team lost to Spain in a EURO 2012 qualifying game in Granada on Friday. Sensationally, the Czechs went ahead in the 29th minute after Jaroslav Plašil’s amazing long-range shot. But the hosts immediately put the Czech team under great pressure and although goalie Petr Čech showed some exceptional saves, David Villa equalized in the 69th minute. Four minutes later, Czech Republic’s Jan Rezek fell Andres Iniesta in the box, and David Villa netted the penalty to set the score at 2:1. The Czech Republic now ranks second in the I qualifying group, six points behind Spain and two points ahead of Scotland. The Czechs will next play Liechtenstein on Tuesday.
The weekend will be overcast, with rain or sleet in places. Daytime highs should range between 7 and 11 degrees Celsius.