The centre-left coalition government of Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek on Friday narrowly won a confidence vote in Parliament, ending a lengthy political crisis. All 101 deputies of the three party coalition supported the Cabinet in the 200 seat lower house, an outcome that was expected after the new Prime Minister secured the support of a few rebellious back-benchers. Both opposition parties voted against the old-new government. In his address to the house Mr. Paroubek said he aimed to bring stability to the Czech Republic. Outlining his Cabinet's priorities the Prime Minister highlighted tax, health and pension reforms as well as ratifying the EU Constitution. Mr. Paroubek, formerly local development minister, is the country's third prime minister in nine months.
Political analysts have welcomed the end of the drawn out crisis, but they are sceptical with regard to the government's ability to push through badly needed reforms of the health and pension system in the remaining 14 months left to regular parliamentary elections. The Prime Minister has said he is ready to tackle those challenges and will negotiate with the opposition parties in order to secure support for the planned reforms. The leader of the opposition right wing Civic Democratic Party Mirek Topolanek said on Friday that although his party had not supported this Cabinet it was prepared to hold talks on crucial reforms.
The Czech National Bank governor Zdenek Tuma on Friday expressed surprise over the radical way in which the country's anti-monopoly office launched proceedings against a number of Czech banks whom it suspects of having created a cartel on fees. Tuma said he did not believe that to be the case, noting that the Czech National Bank board did not see any obvious symptoms of a cartel, but that he fully respected the independence of the anti-monopoly office. If the banks in question - Ceska Sporitelna, Komercni Banka and CSOB - are found guilty they could face a fine of up to 10 million crowns /420,000 US dollars/each.
Several dozen people on Friday gathered at Lety, the site of a former Nazi concentration camp for Romanies, to attend a commemorative ceremony for the 326 people who died there in the war years. Lety is a sensitive and controversial legacy for Czechs since the camp was staffed solely by Czech guards and was initially set up by the Czech puppet government early in the Nazi occupation. Adding insult to injury, the communist authorities later built a pig farm on the site of the former camp, which has not been removed to this day. The European Parliament recently approved a resolution urging the Czech government to have the farm relocated as quickly as possible.
Saturday is expected to be sunny to partly cloudy with day temperatures between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius.
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