Prime Minister Petr Nečas has indicated that he should be the one to nominate the country’s next interior minister, albeit with support from all three coalition parties. In an interview for Lidové noviny on Saturday, the prime minister said that he already had a concrete candidate in mind, someone not politically-affiliated who could replace Radek John of Public Affairs. Mr Nečas made clear that under his plan the choice of Mr John’s successor could be vetoed by any of the three parties. But the three coalition members - the Civic Democrats, TOP 09, and Public Affairs - will still have to agree on how to proceed.
The government is in a difficult position following a corruption scandal which erupted roughly a fortnight ago that has seriously damaged its credibility. In response to allegations of corruption involving members of Public Affairs, the prime minister demanded the resignation of two of its ministers. A third, Transport Minister Vít Bárta, resigned earlier. A major concern for the prime minister has been the alleged infiltration in the state sector of people connected to private security company ABL, a firm formerly owned by Mr Bárta, which now belongs to his brother.
In related news, outgoing Interior Minister Radek John has suggested in an interview for Právo that he never would have gone into politics had he known some of the “awfulness” involved. In the interview, former TV presenter and journalist who successfully led the upstart Public Affairs party on an anti-corruption platform to 24 seats in the election last year, expressed disgust over some problems, but said he remained committed to cleaning up corruption.
Public Affairs are trying to hold on to the Ministry of the Interior, but Mr John suggested in the interview that the party could still be part of the government and not hold any ministerial seats. He said that the government’s programme, not posts, was more important. Leaders from the three coalition parties are to continue talks on Monday to try to resolve the current crisis to avoid a collapse of the cabinet that could pave the way for early elections.
Bohuslav Sobotka, the leader of the Social Democrats – the country’s largest opposition party aiming to call a vote of no confidence on the crisis-hit government – has said he hoped his party would gain more than 30 percent of the vote if it came to early elections. According to the leader in an interview for Mladá fronta Dnes, the left-wing party should get back voters lost in the last election in 2010 but he allowed that a number of ‘unknowns’ remained. Regarding the current government, Mr Sobotka rejected any kind of cooperation with troubled junior party Public Affairs, and made clear cooperation with the right-of-centre Civic Democrats and TOP was highly unlikely. In the interview he said the government was losing its moral credibility.
Czech doctors have come out against health care reform plans unveiled by Health Minister Leoš Heger at a conference in Průhonice near Prague on Saturday, charging the proposals gave too much power to health insurance companies. Under the plan, insurance companies could terminate contracts with private practitioners without having to provide a reason, something the head of the Czech Medical Chamber Milan Kubek said he was strongly against. The fear is that such changes would leave private practitioners at high risk, forcing them to toe the line regarding insurance companies. The Medical Chamber on Saturday also slammed plans for health care fees for visits to the doctor’s to be transferred directly to health insurance companies. Other changes proposed include raising the cost of visiting a specialist from 30 to 200 crowns for those without a referral from their GP.
Roger Waters – the legendary former frontman and co-founder of rock band Pink Floyd – performed the first of two concerts of The Wall Live at a Prague stadium on Friday evening. Both concerts were sold out. The Wall is a classic double-album dating back to 1979 that was later also made into a cult film by Alan Parker. On Friday Mr Waters and fellow musicians performed more than twenty tracks from the original record, including Hey You and Comfortably Numb. A large inflatable pig – a classic Pink Floyd “trademark” – hovered above the crowd during the concert’s second half.
Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuwirth earned his first-ever NHL playoff shutout on Friday by stopping 22 shots by the New York Rangers. Washington won the game, the second of the series, 2:0 after also winning the opener. Game 3 takes place on New York’s home ice.
League leaders Plzeň scored three goals, one off of a penalty, against Příbram on Friday to secure their first-ever win there to strengthen their spot in standings. Plzeň are looking fairly comfortable at 58 points – nine more than second-place Sparta – although Sparta have a game in hand.
Mostly clear skies are expected into Sunday; daytime temperatures should reach highs of around 15 degrees Celsius.