A source close to Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has told a Czech news website, novinky.cz, that Mr Gross will resign as prime minister next Monday, bringing to an end a prolonged government crisis that first erupted in January. At stake in the crisis: the prime minister's questionable personal finances. Mr Gross' replacement as prime minister will now be fellow Social Democrat and the Minister for Local Development Jiri Paroubek, who will lead an old-new coalition of three parties (the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, & the Freedom Union), enjoying the slimmest of majorities in Parliament.
Some of the names more or less confirmed to stay on in their current posts in the new government include Health Minister Milada Emmerova, Education Minister Petra Buzkova and the Vice-premier for Economic Affairs Martin Jahn. Of the three only Mr Jahn is not affiliated with the ruling Social Democratic Party. Some Social Democrats reportedly objected to Mr Jahn's place in the new government on the grounds his policies were too removed from the Social Democrats'. Provided the Social Democratic Party's Central Committee now approves the new coalition agreement (Saturday) the new government could be named by the president on Monday.
One of the country's opposition parties in Parliament, the Communist Party, has already made clear that it will not back the new government, though it may support some legislation. Vice chairman Jiri Dolejs said on Thursday the Communists would be willing to back laws close to their own agenda. Though specific bills were not named, he and others indicated they might willingly back bills related to the social and economic spheres.
The right-of-centre Civic Democrats in the European Parliament have demanded an apology from the vice-president of the European Parliament, Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca, as well as another EP member for comments made on Wednesday. The EP vice-president, along with the chairman of the constitutional committee, Jo Leinen, criticised Mr Klaus for his EU stance, saying statements the Czech president had recently made about the European Union were 'prejudiced' and 'untrue'. Mr Klaus reacted on Thursday by saying he found both men's offensive. He has sent a letter to the chairman of the European Parliament, Joseph Borell, asking him to take a stance.
The opposition Civic Democrat MPs in the European Parliament have also reacted by calling the criticism "scandalous".
The opposition Civic Democrats have proposed that the Lower House of Parliament should have the option of voting to dissolve itself in times of government crisis. The Civic Democrats have said they will soon present a constitutional amendment in the Senate to this effect. In their view, a vote on dissolving the Chamber would first be preceded by the resignation of the government and a presidential proposal. A majority of deputies would have to vote in favour of the measure for it to pass.
The Civic Democrats' proposal comes after the government resolved months of political haggling and crisis. In the Civic Democrats' view dissolving the Lower House would bring a swifter resolution to such crises, allowing the president to swiftly call new elections.
The administrator of the Zbrojovka Brno arms manufacturer in Brno has said he aims to stabilise production at the plant as soon as possible before putting it up for sale. He estimated the price at around 100 million crowns (close to 4 million U.S.). Several parties have reportedly expressed an interest in buying the arms firm, which produces guns for hunting and sport.
A collision involving a truck and numerous vehicles in the north Bohemian region of Usti nad Labem led to tragedy on Thursday with 2 people killed and 13 injured. Police and emergency workers are at the scene.
Ten years after being founded and led by Jiri Belohlavek, the Prague Chamber Philharmonic will now be led by 35-year-old Swiss conductor Kaspar Zehnder. The post of conducting the Prague Chamber Philharmonic became available after Jiri Belohlavek was named to take over as the chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra next year.
The coming days should see sunshine and a chance of a little cloudiness. Temperatures should move up the scale from 13 degrees Celsius to highs of 17 degrees at the weekend.
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