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25-03-2005

Former prime minister Milos Zeman not to seek Social Democratic party chairmanship

Former Prime Minister Milos Zeman, the long-serving chairman of the Social Democrats, has told the party's national conference meeting in Brno that he will not seek a return as party leader. Zeman retired from politics several years ago, but has remained a vocal critic of the current leadership. There had been speculation that he would announce his return to politics at the Social Democrat party congress, which continues until Sunday, and at which some 600 delegates are meeting to elect new leadership.

Prime Minister Stanislav Gross' popularity has plunged to 19 percent

The popularity of the current party chairman, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, is at an all-time low of 19 percent, following weeks of strong criticism over alleged irregularities in his family's personal finances, including how he bought a luxury Prague apartment several years ago, as his official salary was insufficient to have funded the purchase. If Stanislav Gross is not confirmed as party chairman, it could mean the eventual collapse of his Social Democrat-led coalition government. His main rival for the chairmanship is the current Labour Minister, Zdenek Skromach.

Bumper harvest across Central Europe prompts EU Commission intervention

A bumper harvest across Central Europe has forced the European Commission to intervene, buying up and moving large amounts of surplus stocks from growers across the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to prevent a market collapse. The EU has already committed to buying up 13.5 million tons as "intervention stocks," taking these stocks to their highest levels for six years, with about 60 percent of this coming from the new EU member states. The EU has tried to solve the surplus issue by increasing export subsidies on the free market.

Czech football team may face Finland without its leading striker Jan Koller

The Czech football team could be without its prolific striker Jan Koller on Saturday for its World Cup qualifier against Finland. Koller, who has scored a Czech record 34 goals in 61 appearances, and made four of the Czechs' six goals in World Cup qualifiers thus far, was injured during a match with his regular season club in Germany last weekend. The Czech Republic is now tied with Finland for third place in Group One, with nine points each. Striker Vratislav Lokvenc is Koller's likely replacement.

Martina Navratilova to endorse lesbian travel agency

The Czech-born women's tennis legend Martina Navratilova has said she will endorse a US travel company that caters to lesbians. Navratilova, who is herself openly gay, said that she hoped that her endorsement would help encourage the acceptance of gays.

Weather

Temperatures are due to drop slightly over the weekend, with daytime highs of 14 degrees Celsius, and light rain expected throughout much of the country.

25-03-2005