Former Social Democrat chairman Jiří Paroubek is considering leaving the party to join the Czech National Social Party. That party has confirmed that it may put Mr Paroubek forward as a candidate for governor of the Ústí nad Labem region next year. According to the daily Hospodářské noviny, the former prime minister is having a public opinion poll conducted in order to sound out how voters would perceive the move. The Czech National Social Party is a centre-left party popular during the First Republic but sidelined during Communism. Attempts to revitalise it since the 1989 have been unsuccessful.
The chairwoman of the lower house of Parliament, Miroslava Němcová, has scheduled a special session of the Chamber of Deputies for Tuesday, July 12, in order to debate health care and pension reform. The session was requested by coalition MPs and will last until July 13. The lawmakers are also expected to pass an amendment to the Czech Television Act, which will modify the rules for broadcasting commercials, and an amendment to the law on public tenders that is intended to particularize rules for defence and security tenders.
Colonel Milan Majer has been chosen to be the new chief of the Foreign Police, filling a four-month vacancy left by the promotion of Vladislav Husák. Colonel Majer, who is 43 years old, has been with the police force since 1990 and was previously in charge of the foreign police in the city of Hradec Králové. The foreign police was restructured in January due to budget cuts; seven district directorates were then cancelled and replaced with a foreign police department at each regional police directorate.
President Václav Klaus has ratified changes to a law on court fees that will increase the costs of civil cases. The government bill increases the fee for beginning a suit involving less than 20,000 crowns to 1000 crowns. The fee for property cases will now be 5000 and for business cases 15,000. Victims of domestic violence will be exempted from the fees. The increases are part of the government’s cost savings measures which it says arises from the fact that justice costs the state ten billion crowns a year while fees have not been raised in ten years. People can continue to request exemptions or reductions on court fees.
Otto von Habsburg, the eldest son of the last ruling Austrian monarch, died on Monday at the age of 98, the news agency DPA reported. He was the son of Charles I von Habsburg who ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including the crown lands of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, between 1916 and 1918. After Austria lost WWI and broke up into a number of independent republics, Otto von Habsburg went with his father into exile in Switzerland and Portugal. He opposed the Nazi takeover of Austria in 1938. In the 1960s, he became a Member of the European Parliament for the conservative Bavarian CSU party. He also spoke up for the Sudeten Germans who were expelled from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. In 2007, Otto von Habsburg relinquished his status as the head of the House of Habsburgs to his son, Karl.
The number of bankruptcy claims rose in the first half of 2011 by roughly 56 percent more than during the same period last year, the Czech Press Agency reports. Citing information from the company Creditreform, the agency says that well over 11,000 bankruptcy claims were filed during the period. The number of bankruptcies among private entities was up by 76% to 8,243; for legal entities the number was 20% higher at 3,197.
The city of Prague has announced a multibillion-crown tender for communal waste management. The expected value of the tender is 13.2 billion, less VAT, for a ten-year contract. The winning bidder will manage all communal waste and street cleaning in Prague from 2012 until the end of 2021. Waste management in the Czech capital is currently handled by the company Pražské služby (Prague Services), in which the city has a 77% stake, and which is expected to be a favourite in this tender as well.
As of the beginning of July, domestic pets – namely dogs, cats and ferrets – must be marked with an identification chip for travel within Europe. Previously a tattoo was used, and animals tattooed before July 3, 2011, do not have to be given a chip, provided the tattoo is legible. The State Veterinary Administration is encouraging pet owners who intend to travel with their animals to have the chip implanted in any case to avoid problems abroad.
Czechs spent a grand total of 125.6 billion crowns in lotteries and betting games last year, the Ministry of Finance has reported. The huge sum nonetheless signals a year-on-year decline of 1.7%. The largest amount of money among betting games went to interactive video-lottery terminals. Recent court rulings and legislation has aimed at allowing municipalities to curtail the use of such machines.
Serbian composer Goran Bregović has received the Festival President’s Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Bregović made his name primarily as the composer for the films of Emir Kusturica. The same prize will be given later this week to American actor and director John Turturro, introduce the world premiere of his latest directorial film, Somewhere Tonight.
Festival organisers say they have so far distributed 7,437 festival passes to visitors and 1,300 to filmmakers, industry representatives and journalists. The festival wraps up on Saturday, July 9.
Conditions over the coming days are expected to be mostly cloudy with scattered showers and highs of 17 to 22° Celsius.