Prague’s Opencard, a multi-functional chip card system introduced by Prague City Hall, has long been the subject of controversy. Overshadowed by allegations of corruption, the system was widely seen as overpriced. Now, it has taken another hit: this week the Office for Personal Data Protection warned the city needed to introduce changes or face a five million crown fine for the poor handling of personal data.
A recently-agreed coalition between the Civic and Social Democrats at Prague City Hall is only a few days old but almost from the get-go the deal has been seen critically by many voters. On Wednesday, some two thousand let their dissatisfaction be known. While not a huge number, protestors hope the demonstration will give the Prague Civic and Social Democrats at least some food for thought.
Around one thousand people demonstrated in the capital on Wednesday against the recently-agreed coalition between the Civic and Social Democrats at Prague City Hall. Protesters gathered at the top of Prague’s Wenceslas Square, some charging elected officials were corrupt and calling the agreement a con against voters. The coalition deal was reached between party representatives in the early hours of Tuesday morning, freezing out the winners of the recent municipal election in Prague, TOP 09. Critics have charged that the pact will do little to dispel allegations of corruption and clientelism at Prague City Hall.
Twenty-one years ago on Wednesday, on November 17, 1989, a student march was brutally attacked by the police in Prague’s Národní Street; that event sparked a public revolt against the regime and eventually led to the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia. In today’s special programme, we walk along Národní Street, or Národní třída, a remarkable boulevard which is home to the National Theatre, Prague’s most famous delicatessen, a jazz club where Bill Clinton played, and some of the city’s greatest cafés: a street where history was made two decades
The deal for control of Prague City Hall has been made and the result is a grand coalition between the rival Civic Democrat and Social Democrat parties. The controversial outcome means that the centre-right TOP 09 party will now go into opposition, in spite of having won a strong majority at the polls last month, and the Civic Democrats will retain their 20-year hold on power in the capital, despite losing public support in the wake of corruption scandals. Earlier today, Prague-based journalist Erik Best told Radio Prague that the deal carried serious
TOP 09’s mayoral candidate in Prague, Zdeněk Tůma, swept to victory in last month’s local elections, pushing the right of centre Civic Democrats (ODS) into second place in the city for the first time in 20 years with 30 percent of the vote. The vote was widely seen as a pent up demand for change and to clean up widely perceived corruption at the top. With negotiations set to culminate this week, we talked with the former central bank governor in his office in a stone’s throw from Old Town Square on November 5.
After eight years in office, Prague’s mayor Pavel Bém said goodbye on Thursday, marking the end of an era at City Hall. Mr Bém took the top job in the capital just a few months after the city had been hit by the worst floods in its modern history, and has since managed to stabilise the city’s ailing finances. But his term has also been tainted by allegations of wide-spread corruption.
As temperatures drop even Prague’s statues are bundling up, former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright was in Prague this week for the launch of her book Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box and, a man wins three quarters of a million on the outcome of the senate elections. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.
Following the recent municipal elections, it appeared that the winners in the capital, TOP 09 (with its candidate for mayor Zdeněk Tůma) would head city hall. But a little over a week later, that possibility seems fairly remote. Following negotiations, the other main parties, the Civic Democrats together with the Social Democrats, appear ready to bypass the winner entirely, allowing things to remain ‘business as usual’.
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