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Executive committee approves new coalition plan

The Social Democratic Party's executive committee has backed a proposal for a new coalition government led by incoming prime minister Jiri Paroubek. The new cabinet could be named by the president as early as Monday, following the resignation of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross. Recently Mr Gross agreed to step down following months of political pressure - though he has indicated he may not tender his resignation immediately on Monday. Instead he will wait until the new coalition government agreement is formally approved by all three coalition parties. In that light, Mr Paroubek has accepted Tuesday as the likely signing date.

The new government will be made up of the same parties that have ruled since 2002: the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Freedom Union.

Gross plans to help prepare party for election next year

Following his resignation Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has said he aims to help his party prepare for the country's next national election in 2006. Although he has failed to elaborate on details, the Social Democrat chairman recently pledged at his party's convention that he would help his party earn over 30 percent of the vote in the next election, or stand down. A recent survey suggested that voter preference for the Social Democratic Party is currently far off that mark - less then half at 11.9 percent - the lowest number the party has seen since 1992.

Gross rejects as "foolish" the idea he could run for football federation post

There has been some speculation in the Czech daily Sport that the outgoing prime minister could now run for the post of president of the Czech Republic's Football Federation. The daily Sport wrote on Saturday that Mr Gross' name had been put forward by a number of federation members. But, the outgoing prime minister has already reacted, rejecting as "foolish" the idea he might run for the post.

Poll: Gross' departure will help the country, Paroubek largely unknown

A flash poll conducted by the STEM agency has suggested that over 70 percent of Czechs think that Mr Gross' resignation will benefit the country, with 28 percent holding the opposite view. The poll also suggests that only 27 percent of respondents think his successor, Jiri Paroubek, is trustworthy - 38 percent think he is not. Roughly a third of respondents say they are not familiar with the incoming prime minister at all.

Not all Social Democrat MPs have yet decided on new government

There are some indications that the new ruling coalition could face its first serious test when it asks for a vote of confidence in Parliament. The proposed cabinet, relying on only the slimmest of majorities in the Lower House, can not as yet count on all Social Democrat MPs' support. On Saturday MPs Jan Kavan and Vladimir Lastuvka made clear they remained undecided, saying they would take a few days to think the matter through. Jan Kavan told journalists he had reservations about the new government line-up, saying he would have preferred a cabinet led by EU diplomat - and earlier candidate for prime minister - Jan Kohout.

Property owners' association to sue for millions in "moral damages"

Members of the Association for Property Owners have revealed they are planning to sue the Czech Republic for hundreds of millions of crowns in "moral damages" at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The association is citing contention with the country's policy of regulated rent. Incoming prime minister and - until now - Minister for Local Development Jiri Paroubek has admitted the association could win its case if the state were doing nothing to improve the situation. However, he indicated the government has been preparing new legislation. The legislation proposes the country entering full deregulation in six to eight years' time.

Sparta triumphs 2:1 over Ostrava

Football club Sparta Prague downed rivals Banik Ostrava 2:1 on Saturday, taking the club a step away from becoming this year's league champion. Banik has won the title the last two years in a row. On Saturday Ostrava scored first, in the 18th minute, but Sparta came back on a penalty from Karel Poborsky and a strike by Kadlec in the 2nd half of the match.


The next few days should see sunny intervals with daytime temperatures of about 17 degrees Celsius.