Several members of the Social Democratic Party's Central Executive Committee, attempting to obtain the names of potential presidential candidates being discussed by the three-party governing coalition, were further left in the dark Saturday when Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla told journalists that talks between the parties, as well as potential candidates, were still underway. No definite names have been decided as yet. The governing coalition, which includes the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Freedom Union, is trying to agree on a joint candidate in upcoming Czech presidential elections. Two attempts in January ended in stalemate, failing to find a successor to Vaclav Havel, who steps down on February 2nd. In the previous attempts the Social Democrats fielded their two candidates, neither of whom made it past the first round.
The head of Prague's Federation for Tram Drivers Antonin Dub has announced that Prague tram drivers plan to go on strike in protest of lower salaries. On Saturday around fifty federation members met to try and decide the issue, although no information has yet been released on when the strike will take place, or how long it might last. Prague's tram drivers are upset by the fact they do not earn as much as bus drivers in the city, even though both groups are employed by a single transit authority. A comparative study commissioned by the Transit Authority and Town Hall, comparing job difficulty and skills, ranked tram drivers lower on the scale, determining a difference in pay.
Fire-fighters have still not succeeding in putting out a blaze at a 16th century castle near the town of Ceska Lipa in northern Bohemia, The fire, which broke out at Zahradky Castle Thursday evening, was only localised 24 hours later; after the estate had suffered extensive damages, which fire-fighters have estimated at more than 3.5 million dollars. Some items destroyed within the vicinity, however, were irreplaceable: unique Renaissance frescoes and other artwork. The exact cause of the fire remains unknown, although it is believed to have begun in the attic of the four-story structure, causing the roof to collapse through the upper floors.
Czech artist Jiri David's 'Neon Heart' that adorned Prague Castle for the last several months has been turned off as planned, to coincide with Vaclav Havel's final days as president of the Czech Republic. The large neon heart, echoing Mr Havel's signature trademark and inspired by Mr Havel's ideals, was turned off on Friday evening. The heart had dominated Prague's historic skyline provoking almost endless debate among the Czech public over its artistic value. There was more 'controversy' on the heart's 'final day', when Greenpeace representatives hung a banner near the structure protesting possible military action against Iraq.
Sunday will see clear skies and colder weather: daytime temperatures will reach highs between -6 and -2 degrees Celsius.
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