The chairman of the Communist Party Miroslav Grebenicek has said the party's executive committee has recommended to Communist deputies to abstain in Friday morning's no-confidence vote in the government of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross. If all Communist MPs follow the recommendation, the opposition will fall far short of the 101-vote majority needed to topple the government of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross.
Mr Gross lost his parliamentary majority on Wednesday when the Christian Democratic Party dropped its support for his coalition government after the prime minister ignored calls to quit. Mr Gross's coalition government of his Social Democrats and the Freedom Union is now down to 80 seats in the 200-member lower house of parliament. The Communists, who have had a low profile since the end of their rule in 1989, have become the country's powerbrokers as they will decide on Friday if Stanislav Gross's government survives the no-confidence vote.
All three Christian Democrat ministers have handed in their resignations. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, Transport Minister Milan Simonovsky and Environment Minister Libor Ambrozek are leaving the cabinet after Wednesday's decision by the Christian Democrats' national conference to quit the governing coalition due to a row over Prime Minister Gross's family finances. President Vaclav Klaus has said he will wait for the results of Friday's no-confidence vote before he decides whether he will accept the resignations.
Prime Minister Gross has already chosen candidates for the three ministerial posts. They are Social Democrat MP Radko Martinek for the post of Environment Minister, the head of the Czech delegation to the EU Jan Kohout for the post of Foreign Minister and the director of the Transportation Fund Pavel Svagr for the post of Transport Minister.
The creation of a minority government after the Christian Democrats' departure from the coalition would be the worst possible solution to the current political crisis, economic analysts have told the CTK news agency. According to CTK they are afraid that a government with only minority support in Parliament would be unable to push through crucial economic reforms. They see the government's fall and early elections, or the forming of a majority cabinet as the best solutions.
The Czech central bank cut its key interest rate by a quarter of a point to 2.0 percent on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the bank has said. The cut had been widely expected and brings rates in line with the eurozone which the Czech Republic plans to join in 2010. The bank last cut rates in January.
A member of the Qatar royal family has been charged in the Czech Republic with abusing underage girls, the CTK news agency has reported. Prosecutors are also investigating young women alleged to have acted as intermediaries for the man, Hamid Sani, by recruiting under-age girls on the streets. According to police, Mr Sani abused girls who had been delivered to him in his Prague flat by three young women. Detectives discovered that up to 10 girls a day took turns in Mr Sani's flat. Mr Sani, along with the three alleged procurers, faces charges of sexual abuse, corrupting morals and procuring. Hamid Sani, who has been in custody pending investigations since September, has lived in the Czech Republic for more than 10 years, running a private business.
The Czech Republic's footballers have beaten Andorra 4:0 away in a qualifying game for next year's World Cup in Germany. Milan Baros and Vratislav Lokvenc scored from open play, while Marek Jankulovski and Tomas Rosicky both converted penalties in Wednesday's game. The Czechs are one point behind leaders Holland in their World Cup qualifying group.
No changes are expected in the coming days. The skies should stay partly cloudy and daytime temperatures are expected to range from 10 to 15 degrees Celsius.
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