Daily news summary News

27-03-2005

Gross re-elected head of the Social Democratic Party

A slim majority of delegates at the Social Democratic Party's congress in Brno, has re-elected Prime Minister Stanislav Gross as head of the Social Democrats. On Saturday Mr Gross defeated lone rival Zdenek Skromach by just less than 53 percent of the vote - a number of delegates abstained. Following his victory Mr Gross said he accepted responsibility for his party in the next national elections, in 15 months' time.

Christian Democrats suggest two options are on the table

But, Mr Gross' re-election as chairman of the Social Democratic Party has left the future of the governing coalition in doubt: coalition partners, the Christian Democrats, had called for the prime minister's resignation over the last month, saying they would pull out of the government unless the prime minister accepted responsibility for a recent property scandal.

There has been no final decision by the Christian Democrats yet, however they have made it clear when talks between the two political parties reconvene they will push for either Mr Gross to step down, or for early elections, as a condition for holding the coalition together. Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek has said the two sides should meet within a matter of days. The prime minister, meanwhile, indicated the ball is now very much in the Christian Democrats' court; he would prefer the government to continue in its present form until national elections in 2006.

Deputy chairs also elected, Skromach empty-handed - again

On Saturday the Social Democrats also elected a new inner party leadership: among those elected to deputy chairman posts were strong Gross supporters, the Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the Minister for Regional Development Jiri Pardoubek. Mr Gross' rival for the party leadership, Zdenek Skromach, also contended for a post but came up dry, and is said to now be considering leaving the government altogether. Mr Skromach is the Minister for Labour and Social Affairs. Other changes in ministerial posts may also be ahead: there are indications that if Mr Skromach leaves, Agriculture Minister Jaroslav Palas will also give up his post.

Hundreds of neo-Nazis gather for concert in north Bohemia

A Czech human rights association (Tolerance) has criticised police in north Bohemia for allowing hundreds of neo-Nazis, from the Czech Republic, as well as neighbouring Slovakia, Poland, and Germany, to gather for a skinhead concert. The event took place in a local town gym on Saturday. The concert had been billed in advance as a private event - but featured prominent fascist bands from the Czech Republic and abroad. Police checked identity documents but otherwise did not intervene. The country's prime minister has said he will look into the matter, stressing he did not wish the Czech Republic to become a place where extremists could gather.

Footballer Koller out against Andorra

The Czech Republic's national squad is now set to face Andorra in an upcoming football World Cup qualifier this week. Following Saturday's narrow win over Finland the Czechs are second in their group, one point off the Netherlands. The Czech squad will have to continue to without striker Jan Koller, who is injured. There is also some speculation over whether Milan Baros will be able to play. Baros had to be taken off the field three times against the Finns in their closely-fought game.

Weather

The following days are expected to be a cloudy with a chance of light rain. Daytime temperatures should be around 14 degrees Celsius.

27-03-2005