Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, whose Social Democratic Party has been gaining ground on the right wing Civic Democrats ahead of next year's general elections, has ruled out the possibility of forming a coalition government with the Communist Party. The Prime Minister recently bowed to the will of his coalition partners and withdrew support for a proposal to abolish the screening law which now prevents former communist agents from acquiring high posts in public service. Pressed by journalists to say who the Social Democrats would link forces with if they did well in the elections, Mr. Paroubek said he was keeping all options open, including that of a grand coalition with the Civic Democrats. Indirect support from the Communists in the event of a minority government has not been ruled out.
The acting chairman of the Social Democratic Party and Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has indicated that he will not support the efforts of senators Jaromir Stetina and Martin Mejstrik to outlaw the promotion of communism and the use of communist symbols. The proposed bill, which would force the Communist Party to change its name and properly distance itself from the past, is to be debated in the Lower House next week. With both the Communist Party and the ruling Social Democrats likely to vote against it, its chances of approval are slim. Meanwhile the leader of the right wing Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek told Czech Radio on Sunday his party would support the bill.
The re-enactment of the battle of Three Emperors, on the 200th anniversary of Napoleon's great victory at Austerlitz - or Slavkov, as it is known in Czech - has left several people injured. Doctors said a number of "soldiers" were taken to hospital with bone fractures, eye injuries and even hypothermia. Four thousand history buffs and enthusiasts from 33 countries took part in the biggest ever reconstruction of a Napoleonic battle - performing for a crowd of 30, 000 spectators. The event was screened live by Czech television.
Health and social care workers unions have warned against arbitrary closure of hospitals and called on the government to prevent this happening. The unions said that the new health minister David Rath was using the forced administration he imposed on the largest Czech health insurance company VZP to cut the revenues of some hospitals. They implied that the decision was not made on the grounds of their performance but on the basis of his personal view of it. The unions said that although they understand that changes to the health system are necessary they should be carried out in a transparent way.
Monday is expected to be cloudy to overcast with scattered rain or snow showers and day temperatures between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.
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