Government coalition members the Civic Democrats and junior party Public Affairs have not yet found a way through an impasse over who should next head the Interior Ministry, the Czech news agency reported. The Civic Democrats are pushing for any candidate replacing Radek John to be an independent, in the aim of cutting-off perceived influence by the privately-owned detective agency ABL (formerly owned by Public Affairs de facto leader Vít Bárta). But Public Affairs is continuing to push for its own candidate or for Mr John to stay on.
The party’s deputies’ club leader Karolína Peake said on Sunday that a minority government of the Civic Democrats and Top 09 – supported by Public Affairs – was a possible solution to the current crisis: speaking on Czech TV she said the possibility of her party leaving government was being seriously considered. Vít Bárta, in a separate interview, said that if Public Affairs did stay on it would want renewed guarantees the coalition will fight corruption.
In response to current developments, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said on Sunday that he preferred for the three-party coalition to continue, although he admitted that a minority government made up of TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats would be acceptable if no other solution was possible. Top members of the three coalition parties are scheduled to hold talks on Monday to try and resolve the crisis to find a way to move forward.
A flash poll conducted by the SC&C agency for Czech TV has suggested that two-fifths of voters feel disappointment and disgrace over the on-going government crisis. It began a fortnight ago with allegations that Public Affair’s de facto leader Vít Bárta had paid bribes to other party members and that he had entered politics only to make personal gains in economic power and influence. A third of respondents in the flash query said they felt anger over the developments; ten percent said they were either not interested or aware of what was happening.
The upstart Public Affairs surprised many last year when they won 24 seats in the lower house, enabling them to join a centre-right coalition with the Civic Democrats and TOP 09. Until recently they enjoyed a comfortable majority of 118 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The revelations and ensuing crisis, however, have shaken the government to its core. The largest opposition party, the Social Democrats, has already said it will call a vote of no confidence on the government after Easter.
Several dozen demonstrators protested against the coalition government on Saturday by leading a procession from the office of the government to Prague Castle. Protestors carried masks portraying the likenesses of cabinet members as well as a large mock pen with which the phoney cabinet “signed” its resignation. The pen was a reference to a recent video on youtube showing Czech President Václav Klaus conspicuously ‘pocketing’ a pen used for ceremonial purposes during a diplomatic press conference in Chile. The video has become a massive internet hit (with some 4 million views),
The mayor of Liberec Jan Korytář was recalled from his post on Saturday following a secret ballot by city councillors. Twenty-six out of 39 voted for his removal, as well as that of his deputy Jaromír Baxa and councillor Květoslava Morávková; all are from the independent party Change for Liberec. Members of the local Social Democrats charged the mayor was recalled as he had failed to communicate with coalition partners, but the former mayor said the real reason was that he stopped two suspicious commissions (the completion of a pool and renovation of local spas) worth half a billion crowns from going ahead.
Police in the district of Prague 5 are searching for two siblings, a 4-year-old girl and 8-her year-old brother, who went missing on Sunday morning. The children left their home in Stodůlky sometime around 8:30 am, reportedly in response to a family dispute. Police officers have been searching local parks and shopping areas. According to reports, children at one playground confirmed that they had seen the older child but said the 4-year-old sister was not with him. Photographs of the missing children have been posted on the police website, and officials have requested anyone in the area who may have information to contact them immediately.
Tennis player Petra Kvitová has defeated Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer in Charleroi, giving the Czech Republic a 2:1 edge in the Fed Cup World Group semifinal. The Czech player came back after losing the first set 7:5. She won the second 6:4 and the final set 6:2. The match took two hours and 14 minutes to complete. The win gives the Czech Republic a 2:1 edge in the semifinals, with two matches left to play. Záhlavová-Strýcová faces Flipkens in the final singles match on Sunday, and will also play in the double with Iveta Benešová against Belgian players Mestach and Van Uytvanck.
The beginning of the week is expected to be sunny; daytime temperatures should reach highs of around 18 degrees Celsius.