New National Bank governor appointed
Czech President Vaclav Havel has appointed Zdenek Tuma as the new governor of the Czech National Bank. Mr Tuma succeeds Josef Tosovsky, who resigned at the beginning of November after 11 years in office. President Havel chose Mr Tuma despite strong opposition from the two main political parties, the ruling Social Democrats and the main opposition Civic Democrats. Mr Havel argued that he could not postpone the appointment any longer as it could destabilise the Czech National Bank. The president made it clear that the independence and expertise of central bank governors was, in his opinion, more valuable than their acceptability for political parties. Mr Havel appointed Mr Tuma a month before a new law on the Czech National Bank comes into effect, under which the new governor will be chosen by the government.
In his reaction to Mr. Tuma's appointment, the opposition leader and speaker of the lower house, Vaclav Klaus, accused President Havel of using the Czech National Bank as a vehicle for his political goals. Mr. Klaus said Mr. Tuma's appointment was a threat to the bank's independence.
Mr. Tuma himself has promised that his main priorities once he takes up his post will be to monitor fuel prices and public finance. He does not, however, expect to make any dramatic changes to central bank policies.
At a meeting of 16 prime ministers of the Central European Initiative in Budapest, Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has called for greater co-operation within euroregions. Mr. Zeman called for the creation of two new working groups, one to deal with regional co-operation, the other to fight economic crime. The prime minister emphasised what he called the need for cross-border co-operation within euroregions, especially given the future EU membership of these countries. At the same conference, the 16 prime ministers present voted in favour of renewing Yugoslavia's membership in the organisation.
The Rosa Centre for Abused Women in Prague says that the Czech government is not doing enough to fight domestic violence against women. The centre's statement came on Saturday, which is the International Day Against Violence Towards Women. Although the government has discussed the issues of domestic violence and abuse towards women, the centre says, the ministries responsible are not taking action to deal with domestic violence. It is estimated that up to thirty percent of Czech women are victims of domestic violence. The Rosa Centre says that one of the greatest problems facing victims of domestic violence is that Czech law does not provide the possibility of removing offenders from their homes, so that women are forced to flee with their children to find safety.
Around three thousand people have gathered on the Czech-German border to protest against the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. The protest took place on at the Philippsreut-Strazny border crossing, and lasted for two hours. Organisers claimed that they do not want to affect Czech-Austrian negotiations on the issue of Temelin, but that they are against the dangers of atomic energy, and Temelin, and they want to explain to the general public why they are against it. The demonstration was also attended by Austrian opponents of Temelin, who said that while they will continue with similar demonstrations, they will attempt no further border blockades until Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel meet to discuss the issue in Vienna on December 12th.
The Four-Party Coalition has called for a vote of confidence in the cabinet after the ruling Social Democratic Party's recent failure in the Senate and regional elections. The coalition of four right-of-centre parties did unexpectedly well in both elections and gained 39 out of 81 seats in the upper house. The Four-Party Coalition argues that it would be logical for the government to ask for a vote of confidence because the elections clearly showed the stance of Czech citizens towards the Social Democrat government. At the same time, the coalition admitted that it would be impossible to initiate the government's removal because it was installed due to a power-sharing pact with the strongest opposition party, the Civic Democrats. Any vote of confidence would take place in the lower house, where the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats still enjoy a majority.
The Czech Republic will be affected by a cold front over the next few days. Sunday should see overcast skies, with intermittent rain or snow showers expected throughout the day. The highest daytime temperatures should reach nine degrees Celsius. Temperatures during the night should reach a maximum of six degrees Celsius.
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